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Statement on Social Development (Item 55) by Ms. ZHANG Dan, Counsellor & Deputy Representative of the Chinese Delegation at the Third Committee of the 63rd Session of the General Assembly


6 October 2008, New York

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, please allow me to congratulate you on your election as the chairman of the Third Committee. I wish to assure you and other members of the bureau of my delegation's full cooperation and support. My delegation welcomes the report of the Secretary-General submitted under this agenda item, and associates itself with the statement made by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

Mr. Chairman,

The 45th and 46th sessions of the Commission for Social Development undertook the first global review and appraisal of the Madrid Plan of Action. The Chinese delegation is delighted to see that there has been a considerable improvement of awareness on the part of various countries of the Plan of Action and governments have adopted comprehensive and innovative policies resulting in remarkable progress in the implementation of their ageing-related policies. However, implementation of the Plan of Action is still uneven among different regions. Most countries lack necessary resources to collect data and information and conduct policy research specifically on ageing. The Chinese delegation calls upon all governments to demonstrate stronger political will and invest more financial and human resources in the work related to ageing.

Mr. Chairman,

As pointed out by the World Summit in 2005, basic education and literacy training play a crucial role in poverty eradication and the achievement of other MDGs. Education is pivotal in enhancing people's abilities, promoting economic and social development of countries and improving the life of the poor. Therefore, governments are duty-bound to safeguard the right of all citizens to education and to ensure that all children, boys and girls alike, enjoy equal access to all levels of education. The Chinese delegation notes with regret that in today's world, there are still over 700 million adults who lack the basic skills to read, 2/3 of whom are women. In addition, more than 70 million children do not receive school education. China welcomes the activities of UNESCO centering on the Global Literacy Decade, and appeals to all governments to place the issue of combating illiteracy on their national agenda and join hands in a concerted effort to tackle the challenge of illiteracy.

As the most populous developing country, China's campaign against illiteracy and its achievements will have a direct impact on the global endeavor in this regard. As early as 1986, the Chinese government promulgated the Law on Compulsory Education, which instituted in legal form a system of 9-year compulsory education at the national level. The central government has set up a national inter-ministry coordination mechanism to combat illiteracy and the local governments have established their own leading institutions to this end. Governments at all levels have incorporated combating illiteracy in their respective economic and social development planning and in goals of the governmental work. They have also put in place mechanisms of accountability, inspection and verification in this regard. At the same time, based on our national situation, while ensuring the quality of education, we gradually reduced and exempted the tuition during the years of compulsory education. Students from families in financial difficulties receive free textbooks and those in boarding schools get monthly stipend. Thanks to 22 years of unremitting efforts, we have achieved free access to high-quality education in the world's most populous country, thus reducing to the largest extent possible new cases of illiteracy and stemming the emergence of illiteracy at its source. The next step for us is to raise the literacy level among women and ethnic minorities and strive to achieve the goal of halving the rate of illiteracy ahead of the target year of 2015.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese delegation is pleased to note that with the joint efforts of the international community, national governments and the civil society, the international endeavor to protect persons with disabilities has gathered momentum. We welcome the coming into effect on May 3 this year of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Meanwhile, we can not fail to notice that 650 million persons with disabilities of our world are still faced with various difficulties in social security, education, employment, and equal participation in social life. This requires more vigorous publicity campaigns by governments on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to raise public awareness of the rights of these people, and more effective fulfillment of Convention obligations through legislative, administrative and judicial measures.

China has been active in its promotion of the international cause for the protection of persons with disabilities, and has been a staunch advocate and proponent of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Chinese government signed the Convention on March 30, 2007 and ratified it on June 26, 2008, which made us the 34th State Party to the Convention. The Chinese government has nominated a well-known scholar with disabilities as a candidate for membership of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mr. Chairman,

From September 6-17, China successfully hosted the 13th Paralympic Games in Beijing, which gathered more than 4000 athletes with disabilities representing 146 countries and regions. They shared dignity and happiness brought about by sports and showcased the Paralympic theme of "Transcendence, Equality, and Integration". The Chinese government spared no effort in supporting the Paralympics and carried out large scale renovation of Beijing's public transport facilities, tourist sites, and shopping centers to provide accessibility. The main thoroughfares were paved with lanes for the visually challenged. The hosting of the Paralympics helped to promote China's work related to persons with disabilities. Through the Paralympic Games, the athletes with disabilities reasserted their dignity and worth. Many people with disabilities regain their self-esteem and self-confidence from sports activities. They come out of seclusion and start to reintegrate into society. On the other hand, sports and Paralympics offer our society the opportunity to know more about persons with disabilities and understand them better. This is a great legacy the Paralympic Games have bequeathed to the Chinese people.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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