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Statement by Counselor ZHANG Dan of the Chinese Delegation at the 45th Session of the Commission for Social Development on the Implementation of UN Plans and Programmes of Action in the Field of Social Development (Item 3b)

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese government always attaches great importance to questions concerning the elderly, youth and persons with disabilities. It has been striving to build a harmonious people-centred society and enable all social groups to share the fruit of economic and social progress.

I. With the world's ageing population increasing at an accelerated pace, aging-related problems are looming ever larger. Take China as an example. At present, its elderly population over the age of 60 has reached 142 million, accounting for about 11% of the entire population of the country. This figure is projected to shoot up to 160 million by 2010, roughly 12% of the national total. Aging is becoming one of the major challenges to the country. To address this question, I would like to share with colleagues the following ideas:

First, countries should, in the light of their national conditions, integrate the issue of aging into their overall planning for economic and social development. Only by doing so, can they understand its dynamics and characteristics, and incorporate aging-related efforts into their overall economic and social development plans, and ensure good coordination between such efforts and socio-economic development.

Second, all countries, the developing countries in particular, should prioritize and actively promote economic growth and social progress across the board, listing as priority goals the eradication of poverty and improvement of health insurance and social security, constantly lifting the living standard of the elderly and improving their health.

Third, while providing guidance, governments should also mobilize the initiative of all sectors of the society. As aging-related efforts represent a social enterprise, it is impossible for the government to do everything by itself. Instead, full play should be given to the roles of such social sectors as business, intermediary agencies and the family as well as elderly people themselves.

The Chinese government has been following up and implementing in real earnest the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging and has taken measures to meet the challenges posed by this phenomenon. In 2006, China started implementation of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan for the Development of China's Undertakings for the Elderly (2006-2010) and published the White Paper on the Development of China's Undertakings for the Elderly. Although the existing pension and health insurance systems cannot fully meet the needs of the aging population whose growth is accelerating, we shall nonetheless adhere to the people-centred principle, keep improving our social security system and actively safeguard the fundamental interests of the elderly.

II. The Chinese government always pays great attention to youth-related issues and efforts, and supports the development and capacity building of youth organizations. Drawing on the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, the Chinese government formulated and amended the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors and the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency. China's sustained rapid economic growth and the government's massive input in education, employment, public health, culture and sports have provided young people in China with conditions that are more favourable than ever before; the scale of youth participation in the social development process has also reached an unprecedented height.

As a populous country, China experiences a huge increase in the total volume of its labour force every year. The government has taken comprehensive measures to foster further the creation of new businesses by young people, promote successful business schemes, develop in depth micro-credit projects for youth business facilitation and continue to expand youth entrepreneurial projects, providing backup support in such areas as financing, brand creation and management.

The Chinese government appreciates the work done by the Youth Employment Network (YEN) that was founded at the initiative of the Secretary-General. We hope that the establishment of the YEN China Office will help promote the exchanges and cooperation between China and other countries in the field of youth employment.

III. The Chinese government has been making vigorous efforts to protect the legitimate rights and interests of persons with disabilities. Over the years, we have been committed to the formation and gradual perfection of a system that safeguards the human rights of persons with disabilities in order to help them participate in social life as equals and partake in the fruits of socio-economic development. In 2006, the Chinese government completed a nationwide sample survey of disabled people, introduced China's Outline for the Development of Undertakings for Persons with Disabilities (2006-2010) and started its march towards the goal of "rehabilitation service for all" for this social group.

The 61st Session of the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is a milestone in the history of the protection of the rights and interests of people with disabilities. China was among the first countries that were behind the formulation of this convention. In the past few years, the Chinese delegation took an active part in the drafting of the Convention and made its due contribution. We hope that the adoption of the Convention will provide the international community with useful concepts, policies and legal framework for the protection of the rights and interests of persons with disabilities.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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