President Jiang Zemin yesterday called for improved international efforts to promote human resources development.
Jiang urged participants at the ongoing APEC High-Level Meeting on Human Capacity Building to treat human resources as important in APEC exchanges and co-operation and a measure to narrow the gap between developed and developing countries.
Emphasizing education, Jiang suggested a "learning society" could be created with a lifelong education system.
Human resource development has attracted increasing attention from APEC members lately as the world's most dynamic region embraces the new economy, featuring rapid development in the high-tech sector, particularly the Internet. Official statistics indicate that 42 per cent of APEC projects between 1993 and 2000 were aimed at building up human resources.
The Chinese president said increased access to information technology was a way of equipping disadvantaged groups with a better capacity for development.
"The developed members of the international community should provide assistance to developing ones to narrow the 'digital divide' and make efforts to speed up IT infrastructure construction, carry out related training programmes, share knowledge resources and help improve their labour quality," said Jiang.
He hoped developed countries would help developing countries to catch up with financial, material and technological support.
The Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, who joined Jiang last year to arrange this week’s meeting, echoed Jiang’s words.
"If our people are to prosper in the new economy, they must feel they have a personal stake in its success," said the Sultan of Brunei. "We have to make sure the knowledge and the means to disseminate it are not kept in the hands of a few."
Despite the boom brought about by the new economy, many people in developing countries have started to worry that economic progress powered by high-tech developments will widen the gap between their countries and developed countries.
Both Jiang and the Sultan of Brunei stressed the importance of creativity and innovation in boosting the region's economy at yesterday's opening ceremony.
Jiang particularly mentioned the cultivation of young professionals, calling for efforts to create an incentive mechanism and fair competition conditions favourable for their development and to encourage opportunities to exchange learning and innovation.
The two-day discussion, the first of its kind in APEC history, has brought together government officials, academics and entrepreneurs from the 21 APEC members.
"The participants agreed that human capacity building is an important measure to meet the challenges of the new economy and a new engine for the economic development in the Asia-Pacific region," said Zhang Yanping, spokesman for the meeting.
According to Zhang, participants focused on the spread of network information, the elimination of the digital divide, the strengthening of education and training and co-operation among academics, governments and enterprises during yesterday afternoon's discussion.
Chinese officials working in human resources development hope that the meeting will inject new momentum into the world's most populous nation as it braces itself for international competition.
"During the modernization process, it is crucial to turn the heavy population burden into an advantage in human resources," said Zhang Xuezhong, China's minister of personnel.
Zhang told the participants that China, viewing education, science and technology and professionals as of strategic importance, has put increasing emphasis on nurturing high-tech and managerial professionals, while helping farmers to better equip themselves with more advanced skills.
(China Daily 05/16/2001)