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Speech by State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan At Opening Ceremony of High-Level International Conference on Millennium Development Goals

2004-03-25 00:00

25 March 2004

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


      It is a great pleasure for me to attend the High-Level International Conference on Millennium Development Goals co-sponsored by the Chinese Government and the United Nations.  I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government, our warm welcome to our friends old and new.


      Four years ago, we greeted the dawn of the new century and the new millennium with great expectation for peace, prosperity, happiness and security, an expectation shared by all peoples. For that occasion, heads of state and government, bearing this expectation in mind, assembled in the United Nations to review the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and solemnly pledged to translate into reality the right to development enjoyed by all peoples, whereupon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was born as the times required.


      The MDGs not only give expression to the dream of mankind for a better life, but also embody their shared conviction that development is an important prerequisite for world peace, stability and prosperity. Over the past several years, countries around the world have worked vigorously for the MDGs, and a broader consensus has emerged among the international community. The concept of the MDGs has struck roots in the hearts of the people and become a beacon guiding the international cooperation for development.


      Nonetheless, looking around the world we see no ordinary responsibilities for realizing the MDGs. The gap between the North and the South is encroaching the foundation of development, persistent poverty and diseases severely restrict the energy of development, and   terrorism and other non-traditional security threats in various forms consistently impact development course. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan pointed out recently that the international political attention has drifted dangerously away from the MDGs. He has every reason to say so.


      No doubt, the challenge is enormous. Therefore, the United Nations should not only play a leading role in promoting development but also take up on itself the responsibility to act on the international consensus on the MDGs. Facts have shown time and again that the United Nations has an irreplaceable role to play in major issues bearing on the future of the entire mankind. Acknowledged by history, the UN now has a glorious mission to fulfill. Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. We should take advantage of that occasion to explore new ways for the revitalization of the UN role in the field of development so as to enable it to make greater contribution to world peace and human advancement.


      Ladies and Gentlemen,


      Our aim of having this conference is to learn from each other, exchange views, and pool our thoughts and ideas together in our quest for common development. I wish to share with you some of my observations on how to achieve the MDGs.


      First, action is essential. The state is the basic unit for the implementation of the MDGs. The national government bears the primary responsibility to ensure the smooth achievement of the MDGs. Only by persistently implementing development strategies and programs formulated in accordance with the MDGs, can we expect to turn the MDGs into reality before 2015.


      Second, proceeding in a balanced way. Experience tells us that global prosperity requires a scientific, comprehensive and balanced approach. Economic growth does not necessarily mean social progress. It should not be achieved at the expense of the ecosystem. The MDGs covers poverty elimination, education and health, as well as gender equality, environmental protection and partnership. They demand all-round measures at both the national and international levels. That is how a coordinated and sustained economic, social and environmental development can be achieved.


      Third, building a comprehensive partnership. Efforts should be taken at the national level to mobilize forces from all walks of life to actively participate in the MDGs-related work. Today we have quite a lot of representatives from the civil society and business community. I welcome your participation in this great historical process. While at the international level, broadly-based dialogue and consultations should be conducted to explore and develop effective mechanisms for greater international cooperation in development. The international community should give more support to developing countries stricken by multiple problems. The United Nations and its relevant agencies should play a constructive role in this respect.


      Ladies and Gentlemen,


      One of the frequently quoted lines of Chinese late leader Mr. Deng Xiaoping is "Development is the fundamental principle". As a developing country with 1.3 billion people, China has always taken development as its first priority. Following the Millennium Summit, we integrated the MDGs into our overall national development strategy. With the concerted efforts of the government, business community and civil society, we have made good progress in socio-economic development.  Some of the MDGs have become reality. Our goal of building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way set in recent years converges with the MDGs. Last year's 3rd Plenary Session of the 16th CPC Central Committee defined in explicit terms the scientific concept of development, i.e. human-centered, comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development, focusing on balancing urban and rural development, balancing development among regions, balancing economic and social development, and balancing development of man and the nature. These principles were underscored in the Report on the Work of the Government made by Premier Wen Jiabao to the just concluded NPC Session. Today, the new concept of development has taken roots in the hearts of the Chinese people. Comprehensive indicators for development in the economic, social, cultural and environmental fields have become the yardstick to gauge the performance of the government. This will further accelerate China's march towards the MDGs.


      However, we are keenly aware of the fact that to attain the MDGs, China has to surmount a lot of hurdles, such as over-population, contradiction between lack of resources and the environment protection, contradiction between economic growth and social progress, and unbalanced development among different regions. The Chinese Government, in a pragmatic spirit, is determined to deepen reform, speed up institutional innovation and drawn upon successful experience from other countries in a bid to achieve the MDGs in a comprehensive way as early as possible. I believe that China will contribute even more to the world development if it is successful in its endeavor at home.


      Ladies and Gentlemen,


      The achievement of MDGs will lay down a sound foundation for the advancement of mankind in the new millennium. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe will be free from hunger and poverty, and have access to safe water and education. Hundreds of millions more will be free from diseases. Our children will be able to live in harmony with the nature. I am confident that, as long as we have the determination and courage to act on our consensus, pool our wisdom, strength and resources, the MDGs will come true.


      I wish this conference a complete success.


      Thank you all.

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