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Family Planning Policy Helps Reduce Poverty
Nearly 220 million Chinese have shaken off poverty during the past 20 years, thanks to the country's family planning policy.

Siri Tellier, representative of the United Nations Population Fund, said in Beijing on Thursday at a conference marking the 13th World Population Day that as the number of destitute people in the world kept growing, the issue of population was having an increasing impact on poverty and development.

As the task of alleviating poverty got tougher, China, the most populous developing country in the world, had done a great job in improving women's reproductive health and eliminating poverty, she said.

Statistics reveal that China's destitute population has dropped from 250 million in 1979 to 30 million at present. In rural areas, the proportion of destitute people declined from 30.7 percent to 3 percent in the same period.

Thanks to the family planning policy implemented in the 1970s, the birth of 300 million people has been avoided and relevant costs of 360 billion yuan (about US$43.4 billion) spared.

To encourage destitute households to adopt family planning policies and spread the concept of bearing healthier children rather than as many children as possible, the Chinese government keeps increasing funds for family planning in poverty-stricken central and western areas.

A range of preferential policies have been mapped out to help poor rural families have more access to education, wealth and basic services to improve their lot.

So far, nearly 100,000 poor mothers have been helped in an aid-the-poor project launched in 1994, which indirectly benefited a population of more than 400,000.

At the end of 2001, China enacted a family-planning law to protect people's basic existence rights. Today, its family planning policy has been widely accepted and adopted worldwide.

Statistics from the United Nations Population Fund show the proportion of couples in developing countries who have adopted family planning has risen from 15 percent to 60 percent.

A recent World Bank survey said that the number of the world's least developed countries has risen from 25 to 49. And the global destitute population may top 1.5 billion by the year's end, most of whom live in remote rural areas.

As complications caused by poverty such as unemployment, malnutrition, illiteracy, discrimination against women and environmental degradation are rampant worldwide, the survey is urging more cooperation within the international community.

At the first summit of the African Union which opened on July 9, African leaders announced their implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development in the hopes of joint efforts to relieve poverty.

During the recently concluded World Food Summit, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations appealed for all-round international cooperation to combat poverty and starvation.

Pan Guiyu, vice-minister of China's State Family Planning Commission, said, "China will continue to open itself up to boost its cooperation and exchanges on population development with other countries in the world.

"China will also deliver its promises to the world to offer more opportunities to the destitute population, increase their job opportunities, improve their living conditions and make unremitting efforts to alleviate poverty," she said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 12, 2002)

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