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Statement by H.E. Mr. Qiao Zonghuai, Vice Foreign Minister of China at the High-Level Meeting of the 43rd Session of theCommission for Social Development of the United Nations
10 February 2005, New York

Honorable Secretary-General Kofi Annan,

Mr. Chairman,

First of all, please allow me to extend, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, our congratulations to Mr. Kumalo on being elected Chairman of this session. I believe that under your able leadership, this session will be a complete success. Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate the other four members of the bureau on their election.

The year 2005 is of major significance to the United Nations. It marks the 60th anniversary of its founding, ten-year anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development, and five-year anniversary of the Special Session of the General Assembly on Social Development and the formulation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This high-level session provides a precious opportunity for all parties to explore ways to further implement the commitments made at the above meetings, take stock of the work done by the UN in social development in the past 60 years since its founding, and draw more attention from all sides to the issue of social development.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese delegation supports the statement made by Jamaica on behalf of Group of 77 and China. We also appreciate the report submitted by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the implementation of the results of the Social Summit and the Special Session. The report analyzes in a comprehensive and objective way the current situation and problems existing in social development and puts forward many constructive ideas. We thank the Secretariat-General for the efforts he made in this regard.

Social development is an integral part of the overall development of mankind. The healthy, stable, balanced and all-round development of the society is an important hallmark of human civilization and progress. In the past five to ten years, many efforts have been made to implement the commitments of the Social Summit and the MDGs, the "comprehensive and people-centered" approach to development has been widely recognized and endorsed by the international community gradually, and countries are attaching increasing importance to social development. At the same time, we must not fail to see that the work of social development on a global scale is faced with grim difficulties and challenges. The report of the Secretary-General indicates that the general situation in social development has not been fundamentally improved from ten years ago. Despite some progress in eradicating extreme poverty, increasing women's political participation, popularizing basic education, and improving literacy rate among women and medical care, the development has been far from even and balanced; and there has been retrogression in employment, gender equality and access to legal and other social services. In the Sub-Sahara African region, the overall social development tends to worsen. Many developing countries have not truly benefited from the "dividends" of globalization. The overwhelming majority of the developed countries have failed to achieve the ODA/GNP ratio of 0.7%. Security factors are increasingly becoming the major obstacle to social development. The harsh facts tell us that there remains a long uphill journey before we can achieve the ten commitments of the Social Summit and the MDGs.

Mr. Chairman,

In order to turn into reality as soon as possible the Copenhagen Declaration and Program of Action and the initiatives and programs outlined in the Outcome of the 24th Special Session of the General Assembly for Social Development, countries must work in concert with focus on the following aspects:

1. Working together for a peaceful international environment. A

peaceful and stable international environment is the prerequisite for social development as the latter is closely linked with the security situation of the region and the world at large. Unfortunately, international and regional security situation has been highly unstable on the whole in the past decade with armed conflicts cropping up now and then and various forms of terrorism and transnational organized crime pestering the relevant regions and countries, distracting them, the developing members in particular, from economic development, still less social development. Therefore, striving to create a peaceful international and regional environment, prevent conflicts and establish a fair and equitable international order stands out as the essential condition and top priority for all parties to make good on the commitments and realize the development goals.

2. Choosing the right road to development in line with the national

conditions. It is imperative that the developing countries proceed from their own national conditions to choose a suitable road to development and enhance their capabilities of developing on their own. Development must be put high on the agenda. That is to say, while maintaining stability, efforts must be made to promote reform and opening-up, utilize all favorable international conditions and try to keep pace with the world economic development. Apart from respecting the right of developing countries to choose the development road of their own, the international community should provide assistance in institutional building, personnel training and competitiveness growing. Furthermore, the developed countries should increase official development aid and provide further debt relief and technical assistance to the developing countries so as to help them out of poverty as soon as possible in the interest of all mankind.

3. Deepening cooperation and forging comprehensive partnerships.

Today, as globalization grows in depth, countries and regions are brought closer to each other. HIV/AIDS, SARS and other contagious diseases, natural disasters, environmental pollution and transnational organized crimes have become challenges and threats to all countries. The Indian Ocean tsunami late last year showed once again that natural disasters are enemies of all and should be addressed collectively through greater solidarity. It is gratifying that the international community including the UN, the relevant national governments and civil societies have demonstrated unprecedented unity and built a true partnership of comprehensive cooperation. We appeal to the international community to put in place at an early date a regional or global early-warning system for natural disasters and contagious diseases so that responsibilities can be shared to prevent recurrence of the past tragedies.

4. Enhancing coordination and effectively implementing action plans. A thousand promises are not as good as one action. Action is extremely important. To implement commitments on social development requires solid actions as well as necessary mechanisms and resources for these actions. To begin with, national governments must have the sense of historical responsibility and urgency and prioritize on social development in their national development strategy. It is essential for governments to promote all-round, "people-centered" social development, with special attention to poverty, employment, education, medical care and health, gender equality and protecting the rights and interests of special groups. In the meantime, the civil societies must be encouraged to play a supplementary role. The Chinese side supports the leading and coordinating role of the UN in social development and will continue to support all efforts that are conducive to realizing the commitments and the MDGs.

As an ancient Chinese philosopher once remarked, there's no a thousand-mile journey without small steps going; there's no river or ocean without tiny streams pooling. We are confident that as long as all parties make solid and unremitting efforts, the ten commitments and the MDGs will be eventually realized.

Mr. Chairman,

China is a big developing country with 1.3 billion people. What is the road to development compatible with China's national conditions? This has always been a strategic subject for study on the part of the Chinese Government. Over the recent years, we have gradually deepened and enriched our perception of development by taking stock of the history of human development and taking reference to international experience, both positive and negative. We feel it keenly that the modernization of the country cannot be achieved merely through a high growth rate of the economy, but rather through the balance between economic and social development, by way of a scientific approach to development that is people-centered, comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable. "People-centered" means our development is designed for and aimed at improving people's health, material and cultural life. "Comprehensive" means our development involves progress on the material, spiritual and political fronts at the same time. "Coordinated" means our development is a balanced process between the urban and rural areas, among different regions, between economic and social development and between domestic development and opening-up. "Sustainable" means we respect the laws of nature and the economy, pursue economic development in a way that is compatible with the population, nature and environment and promote harmony between man and nature by building a conservation society and a cyclic national economy that saves resources and pollutes little.

In parallel with its sustained, rapid and healthy economic growth, China has also made big headway in various social undertakings in recent years. China's population growth remains under effective control. The population in poverty has dropped substantially throughout the country. People are visibly better educated on the whole. Public health services have been improved, particularly the disease prevention and control system and public health emergency response system; as a result, the Chinese people now enjoy better health. Cultural activities, sports and tourism are also flourishing, representing that China has entered a new phase in its people's material and cultural life. China has faithfully implemented the International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002 and the Asia-Pacific Regional Implementation Strategy for that Plan and incorporated the caring of the disabled in its national program for economic and social development. In May 2004, China and the World Bank jointly sponsored the Global Conference on Scaling up Poverty Reduction and in December, China and the World Family Organization hosted the World Family Summit. All these fully demonstrate that the Chinese Government puts great emphasis on social development and has taken concrete measures in this respect.

Mr. Chairman,

Imbalance of development can hardly be avoided since China has a vast area and a big population. In that context, tremendous efforts are needed to coordinate economic and social development and narrow the gap in public services between the rural and urban areas. However, in the next 10 to 15 years, China's efforts towards social development will still benefit from dominant favorable conditions. We are convinced that as long as we work hard to pursue the scientific approach to development that is people-centered, comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable, open the country wider to the outside world and actively participate in international cooperation, China's social development will be further boosted across the board, enabling China to make greater contribution to peace and progress of mankind.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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