The United Nations (UN) has hailed China's achievements in poverty reduction as an example for countries throughout East Asia to follow.
The number of people living in extreme poverty in China has been halved over the past decade - a success linked not only to its enormous economic growth, but also to its efforts to productively employ society's have-nots, a UN expert was quoted as saying yesterday by the Associated Press.
The UN said China led the attack on poverty in East Asia, where the percentage of people living on less than US$1 a day dropped from 33 per cent in 1990 to 16 per cent in 2000. China's 9 per cent growth rate during the decade helped lift 150 million people out of dire poverty, the agency said.
"China has been key because of economic and policy reforms, focusing on agriculture and small-to-medium enterprises," said Santosh Mehrotra, one of the authors of the UN Human Development Programme 2003 report.
The report, which covered the entire world, praised China's approach in fighting poverty.
China's reforms are "why the poor are coming out of poverty," Mehrotra said at a news conference in Bangkok. "The pace of growth matters, but the pattern of growth matters even more. The focus needs to be on sectors where the poor are employed."
Kerstin Leitner, the resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to China and the resident coordinator for the United Nations System in China said she was very happy that the UNDP's programme has helped many poor people out of poverty.
She made the remarks yesterday at a briefing in Beijing.
For example, a Uygur woman in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region lifted herself out of poverty after receiving a micro-credit from the UNDP programme.
Living a poor life in the past, the woman even "wanted to commit suicide," Leitner noted. Moreover, such poverty alleviation projects also helped the local women improve their social status.
Serving as an inter-governmental UN agency, the UNDP has been working closely with the Chinese Government since it started its operations in China in September 1979, wrote Leitner in the foreword of a UNDP brochure.
(China Daily July 9, 2003)