China has achieved poverty reduction on a scale that has no parallel in human history, remarked a top World Bank official.
But despite those extraordinary achievements, millions in rural areas continue to live without enough food or clothing.
To eradicate the scourge of abject poverty throughout the country all walks of society need to be further mobilized, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said Sunday in Beijing.
He was speaking at the Poverty Eradication Awards ceremony held at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.
Among the award winners were the World Bank, China's Project Hope and individuals, including Chong Chan-yau of Oxfam Hong Kong recognized for their tremendous contributions to alleviating poverty in China.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Hui said while the government will take the lead in eradicating destitution, it will continue to guide, encourage and support both individuals and organizations to join in the poverty-relief campaign.
As the latest effort towards that end, the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation Sunday signed a contract with the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.
The agreement gives preferential policies, including tax cuts and exemptions, to encourage private enterprise to recruit staff or run firms in those poverty-blighted regions, according to sources with the foundation.
The award ceremony was one of a number of events to mark the 12th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The day was fixed by the United Nations in 1992.
By the end of last year, China had 29 million rural people living without sufficient food and clothing. In addition, the country has 60 million people with disabilities who need help, said Hui.
The eradication of poverty is the responsibility of the whole society.
With this in mind, China set the theme of the international day as, "mobilize the whole society into participating in poverty-reduction," he said.
In the years ahead, China's central government agencies will continue to launch partnership poverty reduction programs in those poor areas.
Cooperation for poverty-relief purposes will be strengthened between the affluent east and the less-developed west, he said.
Helping poverty eradication projects in other countries will also figure high on China's agenda, he added. The China International Poverty Eradication Centre, shortly to establish, will serve that effort.
Speaking Sunday Jemal-ud-din Kassum, World Bank vice-president for the Asia-Pacific Region, said: "Since 1980, China has achieved poverty reduction on a scale that has no parallel in human history."
Along with those achievements, challenges have emerged, particularly environmental degradation which threatens to impede future growth, and the slowed pace of poverty reduction among the disabled and those in remote rural areas, said Kassum.
Winners of Sunday's China Poverty Eradication Award included, Dr Li Xiaoyun of the China Agricultural University for his acclaimed participatory poverty reduction program, and the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences for its small credit and loan project.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message of congratulations to the recipients that he is confident the government and people of China will continue their mobilization at home, and strengthen their role in international efforts to eradicate poverty.
(China Daily October 18, 2004)