The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has set a goal in helping China tackle a series of problems under the principle of "people first" in 2004, said Khalid Malik, the newly appointed UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in China on January 14.
At a press conference held in Beijing by UNDP China, the main administrators outlined their major programs for the new year, including reform, poverty reduction, AIDS, environment, energy, gender issues, sustainable development and rights of the disabled.
As a man from Pakistan, when asked whether his nationality might bring favor to his work in China, since the two countries have long been close neighbors, Mr. Malik said frankly that he feels comfortable and willing to exert strength in helping China as a UN representative.
Since China is planning to quadruple its economy scale by 2020, its energy and environment will face even greater pressure by then, said Malik. With the soaring number of its GDP figure, China needs to pay more attention to the "green GDP" figure as well, so as to maintain sustainable development.
When mentioning the recent SARS problem, Malik said, "The situation is quite different since the Chinese government and hospitals are more organized now." He expressed his optimism on the issue.
So far, UNDP has conducted a lot of poverty reduction work in some poor counties in China's Yunnan and Shanxi provinces, striving to save local people from dire poverty.
As for AIDS, both China's central and local governments will hold a more open attitude towards the seriousness of the current situation. Discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients still exists, largely in both rank and file and the leadership. One of the major objectives of UNDP is to help raise awareness for the cure and prevention of AIDS, cut out prejudice and conduct more self-preservation, another UNDP China official said.
She also mentioned that the different attitudes of the government of Thailand and South Africa lead to quite different outcomes. Thailand, a long term AIDS-haunted country has reduced its figure due to overall cooperation with the UN in combating the disease. However, South Africa, being reluctant to face the music, has now seen a rise in its numbers.
Meanwhile, the UNDP China mission is planning a campaign in the country to incorporate partners from government, the private sector, media and non-governmental organizations into a partnership for achieving these goals.
Millennium Development Goals
By 2015 all 189 United Nations Member States have pledged to:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development.
(China.org.cn by Li Liangdu and Daragh Moller, January 16, 2004)