China's constant efforts to improve the well-being of its 340 million children has contributed to the global improvement on children's livelihood and development, but more needs to be done to deal with growing concerns on AIDS/HIV and child trafficking.
Disparities between the child haves and have-nots in urban and rural areas still present China with a challenge, Executive Director Carol Bellamy of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), said in an interview yesterday. But China had at the same time become an active force in the global war to protect the vested interests of children, she said.
"China is the world's most populous nation and its works with children have a global dimension, contributing very much to global advances to help children," said Bellamy.
She is joining the fifth East Asia & Pacific Ministerial Consultation on Shaping the Future for Children, which opened yesterday in Beijing. China is home to more than half of the child population of the region.
The three-day conference will set the guidelines for strategies and action needed to safeguard the interests of children over the next 10 years.
In his keynote speech to the conference yesterday, Vice-Premier Li Lanqing reaffirmed China's commitment to improving legal shelters, increasing investment and co-operating with the rest of the world in defending children's rights.
"Children are our future. Their well-being is the foundation for sustainable national growth. To love, care about and protect children has long been a national priority," said Li.
In a latest step to protect children's rights, China has mapped out the blueprint for children over the next 10 years, highlighting health, education, legal action and environmental protection in favour of children.
The scheme will focus on improving the rights of children in the less developed inland regions, the offspring of migrants in Chinese cities and ethnic minority children.
China implemented a mechanism known as the National Program of Action for Children and Women in 1992 as a follow-up to the 1990 World Summit for Children. UNICEF supported China in implementing the program under a Master Plan of Operation, which is renewed every five years.
By the end of last year, 20 of the 24 goals of the program had been achieved, putting China at the highest level among the global community in advancing children's rights.
But Bellamy said China still faced problems in coping with the AIDS/HIV epidemics, child trafficking, sanitation, and clean water.
(China Daily 05/15/2001)