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Global Conference to Push Forward Poverty Reduction

The Global Conference on Scaling Up Poverty Reduction, to open on Wednesday in Shanghai, will inject new power to the global drive for poverty reduction and promote global development as well, Chinese Minister of Finance Jin Renqing, said Tuesday.

According to Jin, the conference, proposed by World Bank President James David Wolfensohn two years ago in Shanghai, is a great international conference on poverty reduction. It is aimed to help the international community exchange poverty reduction experiences, put forward new poverty relief measures, and encourage international financing for development and promote the development of global poverty reduction efforts.

The conference has three marked features: the focus on practicality, on learning and on consensus between developing and developed countries, said Jin, who is also the Chinese chairman of the conference.

The conference is targeted at attaining three major achievements: announcing a declaration, setting up an platform forexchange, and promoting more commitments to funding with discussions on the mechanism of how to raise more extra money for poverty reduction, he added.

Over the past years, he said, China has had fruitful cooperation with international development organizations like the World Bank and has made a lot of achievements from its poverty reduction programs facilitated by international credits.

As a big developing country, China has gained quite a few useful experience from its poverty reduction work, which are practical on a massive scale and sustainable. From 1978 to 2003,poor people in rural areas unable to afford adequate food and clothing dropped from 250 million to 29 million, and poverty occurrence rate dropped from 30 percent to 3 percent.

China is willing to share its experience with other developing countries at the conference, said Jin.

Jin noted that China has developed a rural poverty reduction road with its own characteristics over the past more than 20years.Its essential parts are as follows: placing top priority on economic development and emphasizing poor people's basic human rights -the need for food and clothing; promoting poverty reduction through economic growth, with development as the major means of poverty reduction; establishing a government-led fund-raising mechanism to initiate wide social participation; and insisting on relying on China's own efforts while making full use of international assistance.

As a developing country, China still has a big poor population according to international standards on poverty, and Chin has a long and hard journey to make in poverty reduction, Jin said.

The major challenges are in four aspects: it happens now and then in some areas that people who have shaken off poverty become poor again; much work has to be done to improve the rural poor's living and production conditions and change the backward situation in social, economic, cultural and educational sectors in poor regions; the pressure from future unemployment might affect the poverty reduction work; and the process of urbanization might lead to increase in the poor population.

On the government financial support, Jin cited statistics as saying that between 1983 and 2003, poverty relief funds from the central budgets added up to 108.3billion yuan (US$13 billion). While ensuring increased financial aids, financial departments also made timely adjustments regarding the use of poverty relief funds, with emphasis placed on poverty-stricken areas in western China, on regions inhabited by ethnic minorities, and on poverty reduction with the support of science and technology.

According to the minister, China has cooperated effectively in poverty reduction with international financial organizations including the World Bank. By the end of 2003 China had gained a total of US$51.6 billion of promised loans from international financial organizations.

In recent years, he said, loans from international financial organizations were mostly invested in central and west China that are less developed, and the programs under the loans were all linked to poverty reduction.

China will strengthen cooperation with international financial organizations in poverty reduction in the future, he said, adding that China will continue and increase support for worldwide poverty reduction efforts via offering development experience and financial assistance.

"We are willing share our successful practices with other developing countries and give financial aids to support global poverty reduction efforts through mutual or multilateral channels as China's national strength is becoming stronger," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 26, 2004)

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