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Statement by Ms. ZHANG Dan, Counsellor of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations, at the 3rd Committee of the 61st Session of the General Assembly on the issue of social development (Item 60)

Mr. Chairman,

First of all, please allow me to congratulate you on your election as chairman of the 3rd Committee. We are confident that under your excellent leadership, our committee will complete its work with great success. I wish to assure you of the Chinese delegation's full support and cooperation with you and all other members of the bureau in your endeavors. I also wish to express support and appreciation for the statement made by the representative of South Africa on behalf of G-77 and China.

Mr. Chairman,

This year is the last year of "the UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty". A review of the past 10 years shows remarkable results in the global cause of poverty eradication. Looking ahead, we still have a long way to go before the goal of poverty eradication is achieved. According to statistics, there is still about 1/6 of the world's population who live in extreme poverty, and the situation in sub-Saharan Africa is particularly worrying. Facts have shown that prolonged poverty and economic backwardness are the root causes of armed conflicts, social unrest, spread of diseases and terrorism. Addressing the issue of poverty is not just an economic issue, but also a political one, which requires both the efforts of individual countries and the generous assistance of the international community. Here, I wish to make three points:

First, we need to build up a peaceful and stable international environment that sustains a harmonious development. Human society cannot achieve progress and development without a peaceful and stable environment. Without peace and stability, eradicating poverty is nothing more than empty talk. The international community should make real efforts to maintain regional peace, contain conflicts and create a favorable environment for economic development and eradication of poverty.

Second, we need to strengthen the global partnership based on mutual benefit and the win-win principle. Development aid provides necessary resources for poverty eradication and also will help move the globalization towards a mutually beneficial and win-win outcome ensuring prosperity for all. The developing countries should have the right to formulate a comprehensive strategy for poverty eradication based on their specific national conditions. The developed countries, on their part, should honor their commitments in areas of financial assistance, technology transfer, debt relief and market access so as to help accelerate the development of the developing countries, in particular, the least developed countries.

Third, we should build a poverty-eradication model based on the participation of all sectors of society. In combating poverty, we should mobilize all the social forces and give full play to the roles of the various stakeholders, including governments, enterprises and NGOs, and encourage the private sector and NGOs to increase their input. Efforts should be made through broad-based dialogue and consultations to mobilize all types of resources and explore diversified cooperation models as to bring new life and vitality to the global cause of poverty eradication.

Mr. Chairman,

Eradicating poverty and enabling all our people to live a comfortable life, that is a consistent policy of my government. China is seeking to achieve its goal of poverty eradication through sustainable development. As a result of more than two decades of work, we have achieved remarkable success in poverty eradication. Our people living in poverty have decreased from 250 million in 1978 to 23.65 million at the end of 2005, and the ratio of the poor in rural population has been decreasing continuously. However, we mustn't let up in our efforts. China still has a large number of poor people and there is a great risk that those lifted out of poverty may fall back again. At present, China has entered the crucial stage of facing the dual tasks of meeting the basic needs of the poor on the one hand and consolidating what has been achieved on the other. In spite of its own large number of the poor, China has actively participated in international cooperation and supported the LDCs' poverty eradication efforts through measures like debt relief and tariff waiver.

Mr. Chairman,

2003-2012 are the UN literacy Decade. The Chinese delegation wishes to thank the Secretary General for his second report on "the Implementation of the International Plan of Action for the UN Literacy Decade". We have read the report carefully. Generally speaking, the results of international literacy efforts are mixed. On the one hand, it is encouraging that education for all has become a solemn commitment of the international community, and the global illiteracy rate is lowering steadily. On the other hand, we are worried to see that more than 700 million adults world-wide over the age of 15 remain illiterate, and there is a wide gap among regions and countries.

Education is a torch of human civilization that passes from generation to generation. It is a bridge that takes economic and social development to the future. Above all, it is a sine qua non for the fulfillment of man's full potential. China attaches great importance to and actively supported the global cause of literacy. In 2005, with China's financial contribution, the UNESCO established the "Confucius Scholarship" designed to reward those governmental agencies and NGOs that have made outstanding achievements in the cause of education for all and individuals who have made extraordinary contributions in this regard. The Chinese government also hosted the UNESCO's 5th High-Level Meeting on Education for All, which issued "the Beijing Communiqué".

Mr. Chairman,

China has a population of 1.3 billion, which represents a tremendous demand for its education endeavors. Thanks to the unremitting efforts of the Chinese government, by the end of 2005, the coverage of 9-year compulsory education and literacy efforts targeting adolescents and adults reached 95%. The enrollment rate for primary school reached 99%, and the illiteracy rate of adolescents and adults fell below 4%. Thus, China has achieved both the Education- For- All goal of "cutting illiterate population by half" and the Millennium Development Goal of "reducing by half the proportion of people living in poverty".

At the same time, we are fully aware that China still faces many difficulties in literacy promotion. There are still gaps in term of education development between urban and rural areas as well as among different regions, and the foundation of education remains weak. Achieving the goal of education for all still requires our unremitting efforts.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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