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'Family Policy Incorporated into Development Strategies'

China has incorporated family policies and programs into its national development strategies and taken measures to promote healthy development of the family, a senior Chinese legislator said Monday.

"China, as the world most populous country, has been working hard to build more talents by enhancing the general quality of its citizenship and promoting human development," said Gu Xiulian, vice-chairwoman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee and president of the All-China Women's Federation, at the World Family Summit held in Sanya, a scenic city in south China's Hainan Province.

Over 300 deputies from 48 countries and regions will review and assess the achievements and experience of the international year of the family over the past 10 years and hold discussions on how to improve family life while facilitating social progress at the three-day conference through to Wednesday.

According to Gu, the government institutions and civil organizations have been working together to help poor families and disadvantaged groups, promote coordinated development between urban and rural areas and harmonious interaction between individual, family and the society.

"That's why population living in poverty in China decreased from 250 million in 1978 to 29 million in 2003," she said.

At the same time, China achieved the objectives of providing universal access to nine-year compulsory education and basically eliminating illiteracy among the young and middle-aged population in 2000 as scheduled, she said.

China has also been active in introducing the concept of "reproductive health" and offering information and knowledge about contraception, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention, she said.

"We respect the rights of informing individuals of choices of contraceptives and promote the male involvement in family planning and family duties."

In addition, China, taking gender equality as a fundamental national policy, has during the past decade issued and amended a series of laws such as the Law of Maternal and Infant Health Care to better protect women from mercenary marriage, family violence, trafficking of women and abandonment of girl babies.

The social and economic changes in the past two decades, however, have greatly affected China's family life and brought about new problems, Gu said.

"There are still a considerable number of poor families in rural China," she said. "Urban poor families are on the rise due to the impact of economic structural adjustment."

Pressure on China's social security system also remains high as more families have turned out to be nucleus during China's reform and opening-up in the past 25 years, she said.

The Chinese government will further improve the domestic environment for socioeconomic development and endeavor to fulfill its commitments to the 1994 Program of Action of International Conference on Population and Development as well as continue to integrate such objectives with family development, she said.

"Without healthy and sustainable development of the family, there would be no healthy and sustainable development of the society," she said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2004)

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