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Global Effort to Eliminate Poverty

As the Global Conference on Scaling Up Poverty Reduction opens its two-day session today in Shanghai, the gnawing issue of poverty is once again drawing worldwide attention.

With countries most affected by poverty driving the agenda, the conference is expected to explore practical strategies that will reenergize global efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goal.

That ambitious goal, set by the United Nations in 2000, aims to cut by half the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.

Sponsored by the World Bank and the Chinese government, the gathering has attracted more than 800 domestic and foreign dignitaries, including leaders of major developing countries.

As poverty reduction becomes an issue that increasingly needs joint endeavors and substantive cooperation at the international level, successful practices and experiences from individual nations can provide insights or even a shortcut for others in their struggle against poverty.

Despite the fact millions of people have been lifted from poverty in the past half-century, 1.2 billion people on our planet still earn less than US$1 a day, according to the World Bank.

The world's poor certainly have the right to benefit from the fruits of civilization and economic development. Without their participation, a sustained development of mankind will be tantamount to building castles in the air.

Poverty reduction should be fought like the war against terror. The war against poverty should be a worldwide effort joined by countries rich and poor, developed and developing.

As a country that takes survival and development rights of its people as the most fundamental and prioritized human right, China has long recognized the pressing need to help its poor, mostly farmers, out of abject situations.

Thanks to many years of effort and practice, the country has crystallized poverty reduction from political will into a set of concrete measures with development-oriented strategy in poverty relief at the core.

Meanwhile, remarkable achievement has been made in poverty relief in the past 20 years, with the number of Chinese citizens in abject poverty falling from 250 million in 1978 to 29 million by the end of last year.

However, to provide adequate food and clothing to the remaining 29 million poor is by no means an easy task. While continuous funding support from society and governments at all levels should be guaranteed, efforts should also be made to narrow the gap between rich and poor and provide adequate expertise and resources for disadvantaged people to achieve self-reliance sooner.

As the country has vowed to realize its generation-long dream of building a well-off society for all by the middle of this century, the well-being of its poor population has become a benchmark for achieving that goal.

It is hoped the Shanghai conference will provide China with valuable experience and opportunities for cooperation with other countries and international organizations.

It is also hoped the achievements of the conference will contribute to the realization of the Millennium Goal of the United Nations.

(China Daily May 26, 2004)

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