The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) launched a scheme Wednesday to build a "xiaokang" society -- or a "well-off society in an all-round way."
The program will link the country's commitment to this objective with the principles of the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted by world leaders at the UN summit in 2000.
Human-centered development goals and targets that include poverty reduction, education, health and environmental protection will be included in the framework of China's comprehensive xiaokang plan.
"Given the strong convergence between the two, there is a unique opportunity for China to integrate xiaokang and the MDGs," said Khalid Malik, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in China.
China's leadership has come up with a blueprint to realize xiaokang by 2020. It includes raising per capita gross domestic product to US$3,000 from US$1,000 in 2003, an indicator China regarded as "low-level and unbalanced."
The UNDP is also trying to improve awareness of balanced development among 900 senior Chinese officials by providing training held in China and overseas over the next five years.
"We have already entered an agreement with the Chinese Communist Party's Organization Department and this was part of the program," said UNDP program assistant Cui Jing.
The officials to be trained are at least at vice ministerial level, said Cui, but she refused to go into further details.
With a combined investment of US$10 million by UNDP and the Chinese government, the program is designed to help China develop broader definitions, concepts, goals and indicators of development.
"Xiaokang is not only about having wealth. The basic principle is that we protect human health by providing quality environment," said Daniel J. Deduk, chief economist with the US-based Environmental Defense. He suggested that the government look at regional differences in economic and social development when outlining environmental protection targets.
NDRC Vice Minister Zhu Zhixin said the program would assist China in establishing its 11th Five-Year Plan (2006–2010) for Economic and Social Development.
Zhu said that it is vital to share an expanded vision of development that vigorously promotes human development as the key to sustaining social and economic progress in all countries, and recognizes the importance of creating a global partnership for development.
(China Daily March 24, 2005)