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China, UN Sign Training Program to Aid Western Development

China Tuesday joined hands with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to train thousands of senior professionals for the country's impoverished western region.

The Ministry of Personnel and UNDP Tuesday reached an agreement on a package of personnel training programmes, with an investment of US$1 million over three years (2002-04) by the UNDP. Special domestic funds will also be earmarked to support the programme.

Under the agreement, the two sides will focus on training senior professionals, which are badly needed in China's western regions, where a large-scale development project was started years ago.

During the 2002-04 period, the two sides are scheduled to conduct investigations, hold seminars, and initiate 57 training courses to train a total of 1,050 people at home and 345 others abroad. A total of 29 overseas experts will also be invited to China to provide advice.

"As a developing country, China has to make the best of domestic and international resources for its future social progress and economic growth," said Zhang Xuezhong, minister of personnel, Tuesday.

To develop adequate supply of highly trained professionals in China's economically backward western region, "we need the help of the United Nations," Zhang added.

Zhang was confident his ministry's strategic targets for the development of western China's human resources can be realized with the help of UNDP.

Talented people and specialized technical personnel are crucial factors for the success of the surging and far-reaching exploitation of West China, according to Zhang.

Lack of trained personnel is one of the biggest problems bottlenecking the development of western China, according to an official survey.

The existing quality and distribution of trained people and professionals in western China's 10 provinces and autonomous regions "are not good enough for the support of the government's planned economic take-off for the region," said the latest survey.

The survey by the ministry concluded "the trained people and policies for western China cannot meet the needs of China's market economy and the exploitation of the western region."

Worst of all, "the gap between China's relatively prosperous eastern parts and the western region is growing larger," the survey warned.

In western China's interior provinces and regions, comprising Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Tibet and Chongqing Municipality, there are only 161 trained professionals for every 10,000 persons working in State-run enterprises and institutions, the survey disclosed.

This is lower than the 206 per 10,000 in eastern China and only 70 percent of the national average, not factoring in the trained professionals working for non-state-owned units.

Of the western region's trained people, those mastering the world's most advanced hi-tech and new knowledge have been in particularly short supply, the survey said.

At least 80 percent of the trained professionals in Qinghai and Gansu provinces are in the two province's capital cities, with few of them working in smaller cities or rural areas.

(China Daily January 16, 2002)

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