Chinese gov't showing determination: UNICEF chief

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The Chinese government's commitment to helping children has impressed Anthony Lake, executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), during his five-day visit to China.

Reappointed as head of UNICEF on May 2, Lake told Xinhua on Friday he had witnessed the "strong determination of the government to reach children in the hardest-to-reach communities."

He gave some examples, such as a program to encourage HIV positive mothers to take measures so that they do not transmit the virus to their children. Another one was the "barefoot social workers" who work in communities to help children get access to different kinds of help.

"In some ways the government has been unbelievably successful," he said. "Many of the millennium development goals, like reducing the death of children under five, getting children into primary schools, China has been very successful in accomplishing them."

Lake visited Jianchuan County in southwest China's Yunnan Province and was interested in a project designed to help children learn through interactive classes, rather than just sitting and listening to a teacher.

"These are very small projects that UNICEF can help the government with," he said. Once the projects work, they can be taken to other parts of China on a larger scale and "reach millions and millions of children," he said.

However, Lake noted more work needed to be done.

"It is not how many children are at school, but the quality of education they are achieving and how much they are learning. It is not how many children are receiving medical care, but how many are left behind," he said.

During his trip, Lake met with Chinese officials. "My hope was that I could successfully emphasize with various officials that I met with, that UNICEF is going to continue to do everything we can to support the government," he said.

Lake said he looked forward to developing a partnership with the Chinese government so that they could "learn from each other."

He told Xinhua he wanted to cooperate with the government in sharing China's experience with other countries.

UNICEF is also promoting innovation.

As part of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it has declared 2014 the Year of Innovation for Equity.

Information technology and cell phones are helping us reach very poor communities around the world, Lake said.

With innovation, people will be able to see their HIV report on their mobile phone, rather than wait for the written report. "The sooner they can start taking medicine the better," he said.

Through innovation textbooks can be tracked to see whether they have arrived at schools or not.

"By investing in children, we are investing in those who will lead China and lead the world in 20 or 30 years from now."

Lake is the sixth executive director of UNICEF since May 1, 2010. He has worked on several presidential campaigns and was former President Bill Clinton's national security adviser. He also served as the U.S. president's special envoy, before becoming an international adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Endi

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