|Statement by Mr. Wang Guoqiang, Vice Minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China, at the Plenary Meeting of GA 59th session for the Commemoration of 10th Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development
Respected Mr. President,
First of all, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, I would like to congratulate you on your election to the President of this session of the General Assembly. I am confident that under your leadership, this ceremony in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) will make remarkable achievements.
The 1994 Cairo ICPD and its Program of Action (PoA) put forward new concepts such as "integrated population and development strategy", "all-round human-centered development" and "reproductive health", set the goal of coordinated and sustainable development between population and economy, society, resources and environment, ushering in a new era of population and development programs. In 2000, the UN Summit adopted the Millennium Declaration, which established the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and called upon all countries in the world to halve extreme poverty population by 2015, combat the spread of serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, improve maternal and child health, achieve universal access to primary education, promote gender equality, reinforce environmental protection and enhance global cooperation. The ICPD PoA and the UN MDGs are closely related to each other and mutually promotional, hence pointing out the direction forward for the world population and development cause. As commented by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan: should we fail to properly address population and reproductive health issues, the UN MDGs, especially the goal of eradicating poverty and hunger, would never be achieved.
We are delighted to witness that over the past decade, governments of all countries and the international community have exerted relentless efforts to implement the ICPD PoA and the UN MDGs, making important progress and encouraging achievements. Birth rate has dropped, average human life expectancy has increased, maternal mortality rate has declined, and people in general have more extensive choices of life and opportunities. The overwhelming majority of countries and regions have reached the consensus to adhere to the principles and spirit of the ICPD PoA and the UN MDGs and have implemented corresponding actions thereof. On this occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Cairo ICPD, the fact that the UN is holding such commemorative activities is of great significance to promote global cooperation and communication in the field of population and development, enhance the integration of ICPD PoA with the UN MDGs and the implementation of both, and facilitate the realization of all-round human development and sustainable development.
Being the most populous developing country in the world, the Chinese government has earnestly performed its commitments to the ICPD PoA and the UN MDGs on the basis of its own national characteristics over the past decade. By adopting the strategy of decision making integrating population and development, China has made distinctive achievements in its population and development cause. Despite an economy that is still under-developed, China has effectively controlled excessive population growth, reduced fertility rate to below the level of substitution, achieved historical transformation of its population reproduction pattern, and vigorously facilitated the improvement of its integrated national strength, social progress and upgrading of people's living standard, thereby making positive contribution to stabilizing the world's population. This comes naturally with the Chinese government making scientific decisions and carrying out relevant practices on the basis of China's national interests and characteristics. This is also a successful expression of the Chinese government's efforts in implementing the ICPD PoA, reinforcing cooperation with the international community and promoting exchange and communication thereof.
On behalf of the Chinese government, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to all of you present here the efforts and achievements that the Chinese government has made in implementing the ICPD PoA over the past decade. I attended the 1984 International Population Conference in Mexico City, the 1994 Cairo ICPD and the recent International Conference on Population and Development held in Wuhan, China. I also participated in and witnessed the reform and development carried out by the Chinese government for performing its commitment to and implementing the ICPD PoA. As such, I have a more profound feeling in this particular regard.
To begin with, China has focused on economic development by way of accelerating the establishment and improvement of a socialist market economy, which has laid a solid material foundation for social progress and upgrading people's living standard. Over the recent decade, the Chinese economy has kept a rapid growth rate. By the end of the 20th century, China's GDP had doubled the figure of 1990 while its per capita GDP had exceeded USD1,000, indicating that the Chinese people as a whole had reached a well-off livelihood.
Secondly, China has adhered to its fundamental national policy of family planning and its sustainable development strategy, and properly handled the relationship between socioeconomic development and population, resources and the environment. In face with the key issue of overpopulation that has constrained sustainable development, the Chinese government convenes symposiums on population, resources and the environment each year for overall research and coordinated assignment of relevant work. China has also insisted upon and implemented the principle of human orientation by putting forward a new strategy that features a comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable approach to development. Thanks to many years' relentless efforts, China has controlled the trend of excessive population growth, reinforced rational development and utilization of resources, accelerated environmental and ecological construction, promoted all-round human development and enhanced organic integration of economic, social and environmental returns.
Thirdly, China has continuously improved and implemented population and family planning programs that are in compliance with the Chinese reality and effectively maintained the rights of the general public to family planning and reproductive health. The Chinese government has enthusiastically drawn upon advanced international philosophies and experiences so that the spirit of the ICPD POA has been knitted into the Chinese reform and practice of population and family planning programs. Specifically, China has introduced reproductive health into its population and family planning programs, vigorously conducted quality of care in family planning and reproductive health, steadily promoted informed choice of contraceptive methods, endeavored for universal access to adolescent sexual and reproductive health education, reinforced prevention and control of serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and maintained the rights of the general public to FP/RH services. All these have enabled China to set up a benefit-orientated mechanism and a social security system that are in compliance with its national characteristics and conducive to its family planning cause. In parallel with enhanced self-consciousness of family planning among the general public, China has gradually improved its reproductive health situation, further reduced maternal and infant mortality rate and enhanced universal access to adolescent sexual and reproductive health education. As such, the government has provided the public with services and benefits through its FP/RH programs, which in turn, has led to increasing public satisfaction with such services.
Fourthly, China has insisted upon integrated decision making and common progress in terms of population control and poverty reduction and development. While practicing family planning and controlling excessive population growth, the Chinese government has exerted active efforts to implement the UN MDGs by vigorously promoting poverty reduction and development. Over the past decade, the Chinese government has walked out a Chinese path of poverty reduction and development that features government dominance, public participation and self-reliance. China realized the UN MDG of halving extreme poverty population in 2003, ahead of the UN schedule. Specifically, absolute poverty population in rural China decreased from 80 million in 1993 to 29 million in 2003 while the proportion of poverty population in total rural population declined from 8.7% to 3.1%. At this stage, the mechanism for poverty reduction is increasingly improved with social security systems such as basic pensions and medical insurance made universally available in urban areas.
Fifthly, China has exerted enormous efforts to implement its strategy of building up the country with science, technology and talents, and enhanced the country's capability of innovation and development by converting human resources into talent resources and regarding talent resources as the No.1 Resource for socioeconomic development. The Chinese government has assigned education a strategic position for prioritized development, increasing its input into education, especially rural education, establishing a modern national education system and promoting national quality education on all fronts. In 2000, China basically achieved, as scheduled, universal nine-year compulsory education and elimination of illiteracy among people in their prime years, with nine-year compulsory education covering 85% of the population and illiteracy among people in their prime years reduced to less than 5%. Meanwhile, China has attracted world attention with a series of essential science and technological achievements such as the "Shenzhou" Spaceship and Hybrid Rice, which have greatly upgraded the contribution of science and technology to the economy.
Sixthly, China has boosted its international communication and cooperation in the field of population and development. The Chinese government is a signing party to major international conventions such as the Convention on Children's Rights, the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and has submitted relevant implementation reports as required by the UN. In 1997, China jointed the South-South Partners in Population and Development ("Partners") and was elected Chair of the Partners in 2002. China has also carried out multiple cooperation projects with international organizations, NGOs and overseas donors such as UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, IPPF and the Partners in the field of population, family planning and reproductive health. In particular, China has completed five Country Programs in Family Planning and Reproductive Health in cooperation with UNFPA, which has played a very conducive role in promoting China's population and family planning program. In addition, thanks to inter-government cooperation facilitated by the Partners, we have also proactively enhanced high-profile exchange visits and carried out fruitful cooperation in terms of technical and financial exchanges, training of human resources and exchange of RH products.
Despite the remarkable achievements made in its population and family planning programs, China is still confronted with numerous difficulties and challenges on its path to ultimate realization of the ICPD PoA objectives and the UN MDGs. Problems such as coexistence of low fertility and large quantitative growth of population, and overall poor quality of the population will remain constraints for China for a considerable time to come. At the same time, China is increasingly frustrated by structural contradictions of the population, acceleration of population aging, the trend of imbalanced sex ratio at birth that is still beyond effective control, increasing employment, reemployment and social security pressures, conflict of interests between the ecology, the environment, natural resources and socioeconomic development, the still arduous task of eradicating poverty and regional gaps, the requirement for further upgrading the status of women and the protracted task of HIV/AIDS prevention and control. Moreover, family planning and reproductive health services have failed in fully and effectively covering the under-developed regions, adolescents, the elderly and the migrant population. The coordinating mechanisms of the government, the business community and NGOs need further integration with public resources.
Confronted with all these challenges, the Chinese government has set up the grand goal for building a well-off society on all fronts in the new millennium. In another word, during the first 20 years of the new century, China will pool its resources to construct an all-round well-off society on a higher level that will benefit the entire population of more than one billion people, by which time China will witness a more developed economy, a better democracy, more advanced science and technology, a more prosperous culture, a more harmonious society and a richer life for the people. This grand goal of development complies with the real Chinese situation, represents the fundamental interests of the general public in the broadest sense and incorporates the principles and spirit of ICPD PoA and the UN MDGs. In this end, the Chinese government has put forward a scientific development strategy, which features a comprehensive, integrated, human-centered and sustainable approach to development. The core of this concept is orientation towards all-round human development. In another word, it seeks development and promotes progress towards the fundamental interests of the people. Such development will also promote harmonious coexistence between man and nature, coordinate between socioeconomic development and population, resources and the environment, and follow the path of development towards a society featured with a fast-growing economy, an affluent life for the people and a sound ecosystem.
For this purpose, while further stabilizing the low fertility rate, the Chinese government has initiated the national strategic research initiative on population and development for comprehensive, in-depth and systematic analysis of and exploration into the interaction between population, the society, resources and the environment. China has also established a population and development indicator system and the national integrated decision-making support system for population and development so as to respond proactively to issues such as employment, reemployment, aging population and the trend of imbalanced sex ratio at births. Moreover, China has accelerated the construction of a rural social security system that will be catered to rural economic development and conducive to the promotion of RH/FP in the countryside, and the realization of overall coordination between urban and rural development, inter-regional development, as well as social and economic development.
Not long ago, the Chinese government and the Partners successfully held the International Conference on Population and Development in Wuhan, China, adopting the Yangtze Declaration. The Declaration represents the voice of people in the South, which takes up 54% of the global population. With "Peace, Cooperation and Development" as its theme, the Declaration embraces the spirit of human sustainable development, and thereby has won respect, commitment and support among all members of the Alliance. The Declaration emphasizes that the population issue in developing countries remains a severe constraint on socioeconomic development, that members of the Partners and developing countries shall continue their adherence to the principles and objectives of the ICPD PoA as their strategic direction and earnestly perform their commitments to the ICPD PoA, and increase the investment and enhance the management capacity on population and development. The Declaration also calls upon the international community, especially OECD countries and international financial institutions to include population and reproductive health in their essential international agendas so that the ICPD PoA will be smoothly put into practice and that the UN MDGs will ultimately become reality. The Declaration also appeals to developed countries for continuous and increasing official assistance to FP/RH programs carried out by developing countries so as to fulfill their commitments to the ICPD PoA and promote the realization of the UN MDGs. As a member of the Partners, China will continue to perform its obligations as Chair of the Alliance, and shall work relentlessly for increasing enhancement and promotion of inter-government cooperation and communication among members of the Partners, facilitate South-North dialogue and cooperation, implement the ICPD PoA, the UN MDGs and the Yangtze Declaration.
In the process of implementing the ICPD PoA and the UN MDGs, the Chinese government has felt strongly that "co-existence", "sharing" and "win-win" are common objectives and ideals pursued by mankind. "Co-existence" is the prerequisite for continuous advancement of the human society. Large or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, all countries are equal members of the international community and therefore should enjoy equal participation right and sufficient decision-making power in international affairs. "Sharing" is the means for mankind to achieve common prosperity. While world peace is indispensable from stability of developing countries, there will be no global prosperity without all-round development of developing countries. Developed countries have the responsibility as well as the obligation to assist the developing world and should not attach any political requirements or harsh conditions to such assistance. Efforts should be exerted to ensure that all countries and peoples will enjoy equal development opportunities and share the prosperity brought about by global development in an equitable and rational manner. "Win-win" is the goal of human society for progress on all fronts. The ICPD PoA and the UN MDGs have pointed out the direction of balanced and coordinated social and economic development worldwide. Only when each and every country in the world has realized this goal, will the fruits of development benefit people of each country and region, and will the 21st century really become "the century of development for everyone".
The Partners and the Chinese government will continue the performance of its solemn commitment to the international community, uphold the banner of peace, harmony, cooperation and development, adhere to the path of peaceful development, enhance and expand its communication and cooperation with all countries and regions of the world according to the principle of "equality and mutual benefit, focus on genuine returns, long-term cooperation and common development" and join the international efforts to endeavor towards peace, prosperity and progress of mankind.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you all.