In a bid to help alleviate the problems of some of China's poorest and most vulnerable people, an aid package of almost US$200 million over the next five years has been rubber stamped by the UK government.
Announced yesterday in Beijing by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Country Assistance Plan (CAP) for China will result in approximately 105 million pounds in aid coming from the UK between now and 2011.
Western China will be the main beneficiary with support being given to programs tackling HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, solving water and sanitation problems and providing basic education in areas including Gansu, Sichuan, Henan, Yunnan and Xinjiang.
"When I visited late last year, I saw the achievements of Chinese people in increasing access to quality basic education, controlling tuberculosis, generating employment and responding to climate change and I know the government of China is deeply concerned about these issues," said Gareth Thomas, the UK's under-secretary of state for international development. "I'm pleased the DFID can help find solutions." His speech had been especially recorded for the event.
According to head of DFID in China Adrian Davis, the CAP for China was devised with particular emphasis on the Millennium Development Goals which is an internationally agreed list of targets for reducing poverty by 2015.
"We looked at the goals and decided which of the targets were the most pressing for China and those we were most able to help achieve," he said.
"The amount of money involved may sound large but it actually represents less than 0.1 percent of China's GDP," he added. "China doesn't need this in financial terms but what we are able to offer is specific skills and approaches where we have knowledge and experience that China perhaps doesn't have."
In education for example, the funding will be spent on projects such as the construction of new schools, teacher training and improvement of education management and administration.
Thanking Britain for its contribution to tackling poverty, China's Ministry of Commerce spokesman Yin Zonghua said the government was committed to eradicating poverty and the associated problems.
"The projects we have already running such as the AIDS prevention programs in Yunnan and Sichuan and the basic education project in Gansu are examples of how successful we can be if we work together," he said. "We are determined to work together with all countries including Britain to solve these problems."
(China Daily May 19, 2006)