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Premier Addresses Global Conference on Poverty Reduction

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivered a speech at the Global Conference on Scaling Up Poverty Reduction that opened in Shanghai Wednesday, saying China will contribute its share in maintaining world peace and promoting common development through continuing actions in poverty reduction and consistent pursuit of peace, development and prosperity.

Wen reaffirmed China's commitment to global poverty reduction, noting that to eliminate poverty in a country of 1.3 billion people is in itself a major contribution to the global cause of poverty reduction.

The fact that the international community turns its attention to the poor who make up one-sixth of the world's population shows how much humanity has progressed and where it is headed, Wen said.

However, he said threats posed by poverty to peace and development continue unabated and for various reasons, progress in poverty reduction around the world has fallen short of expectations and fulfilling the targets of poverty reduction and global development remains an uphill battle.

Wen attributed the widespread poverty to diverse social, historical and natural causes within the specific countries, noting it is also closely related to the existing unfair and irrational international political and economic order.

"Reducing and eliminating poverty is not just limited to the economic realm, but assumes a political dimension," he said. "It is not just an urgent task facing individual countries, but a shared responsibility for the international community as a whole."

To solve those problems, Wen proposed to strive to create an international and domestic environment of peace and stability, establish a new international political and economic order that is fair and rational, saying that the developed countries have a duty and responsibility to provide the developing countries with greater aid.

The developing countries should base themselves on self-reliance in achieving development and international organizations should play an enhanced role in global poverty reduction, Wen said.

As a large, populous developing country, China is a principal practitioner in fighting global poverty, the premier said.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, particularly the beginning of reform and opening-up, China has presided over a rapid and sustained economic expansion.

From 1979 to 2003, China's annual Gross National Products (GNP) grew from 362.4 billion yuan (US$43.8 billion) to 11.69 trillion yuan, representing an 8.4 fold increase after weighing in price fluctuation, Wen said.

The average annual growth rate of the national household consumption was seven percent for the same period and China's per capita reached US$1,090 in 2003 based on the current exchange rate. 

"The Chinese people have, on the whole, begun to lead a life of moderate prosperity," he said.

In parallel with China's economic development, from the 1980s onward, the Chinese Government introduced a number of large, consistent and productive programs of poverty alleviation and rural development, resulting in over 200 million rural poor having their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter met.

"This achievement will go down as a remarkable feat in human history," Wen said. He went on to elaborate on China's experience on poverty reduction.

The premier said that successful poverty reduction work hinges on better play of the superiority of the socialist system and stronger protection of people's rights to subsistence and development.

"We follow a road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, always taking economic development as our central task, striving to let the common people share the benefit of economic development, and working towards common prosperity, social justice and fairness," Wen said.

In 1994, the Chinese Government formulated the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program (1994-2000) and, in 2001, it launched the Development-Oriented Poverty Reduction Program (2001-2010).

These programs targeted the most urgent issue -- inadequate food, clothing and shelter -- and have concentrated resources for quick results.

Meanwhile, "development-oriented poverty reduction" must be pursued with a view to strengthening the capacity of the targeted population to fight poverty and attain prosperity, Wen said.

Wen said with guidance and enabling schemes, China has made the masses in the poverty-stricken areas the principal players of the anti-poverty campaign.

While keeping the government's leading role, efforts have been made to give the marketplace a full role to play with stepped up infrastructure development, economic restructuring and exploration of local resources so as to enhance the capacity of the poor areas for accumulation and development

(Xinhua News Agency May 26, 2004)

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