|NO.14 (July 15, 2004)|
Beijing, May 19, 2004
Beijing in May enjoys pleasant weather. In this beautiful season, thc 27th FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Regional Conference for Asia and Pacific is being held here. On behalf of the Chinese Government and the people, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations on the convening of this conference and to express my warm welcome to all the representatives and friends.
Agriculture is a strategic industry that contributes greatly to world stability, and is of vital importance to socio-economic growth, improvement of people's living standards and to overall social stability. Countries of the Asia-Pacific region have long paid great attention to agriculture and actively promoted its development, thus achieving tangible results. Through years of unremitting efforts, the twin phenomena of starvation and poverty have gradually been reduced.
However, due to the adverse influence of natural conditions and political, economic and social factors, agricultural development in the region is uneven, and still faces some outstanding difficulties and challenges. We should pay particular attention to enhancing our cooperation and making joint efforts in order to constantly raise the overall level of regional agricultural development, so as to lay a solid foundation for development and the improved living standards of all our people.
China is both a big agricultural producer and a big agricultural products consumer. Agricultural development is of vital importance to the country and its huge population of 1.3 billion. We are deeply aware that to solve China's agricultural problem is of great significance not only to its own economic growth and social stability, but also to world economic growth and food safety.
The Chinese Government has always paid close attention to its agricultural development and has adopted a series of legal and policy measures to promote such growth. Since the 1970s, it has stimulated farmers' enthusiasm through the implementation of the reform and opening up policies, thus raising the comprehensive production capacity of agriculture, realizing basic balance or even surplus with bumper harvests in staple farm produce that provide a sharp contrast with the former long-term shortages. This has successfully solved the food and clothing needs for the entire population. Currently, the output of China's farm produce, especially grain, meat, eggs, fruits, aquatic products and cotton, ranks first in the world. Even so, China still faces many difficulties in promoting agricultural development and realizing sustainable development due to the pressure of a massive population, limited per-capita cultivated land, a severe water resource shortage and a fragile eco-environment, as well as a. relatively low level of agricultural science and technology.
At present, the Chinese people are striving to build a well-off society in an all-round way. Our goal is to quadruple the GDP level in 2020 on the basis of the 2000 figure, to reach US$4,000 billion in total with a per-capita GDP of US$3,000, so as to better develop the economy, perfect a democratic system, advance science and technology, promote the cultural prosperity, improve people's living standards, and ensure a more harmonious society. As part of this, it is our major task to build a modern agricultural structure, fully develop the rural economy and increase farmers' incomes.
We must conscientiously implement the principle of working for the interests of the people and should have an overall, coordinated and sustainable development concept. Priority should be given to settling the various contradictory issues rose in the development of agriculture, and make the rural areas and farmers' livelihood the major focus of national work. It is imperative for us to further enhance the basic status of agriculture and to promote its sustainable development in accordance with the requirements of urban-rural coordination. Therefore, we should continuously promote the restructuring of agriculture and the rural economy, protect and raise the comprehensive grain production capacity, advance the industrialization of agriculture, enhance State support for agricultural development, strengthen agricultural scientific and technological research and popularization, enhance rural infrastructure facilities, promote steady increases in farmers' income, so as to further create a new situation in agriculture and rural development.
The natural endowment of agricultural resources differs in various countries of the Asia-Pacific region, and the development level of their agricultural science and technology is different. Most of the developing countries in the region have backward agricultural infrastructures and low levels of agricultural productivity. Poverty and starvation still exist. To change this situation, we should make unremitting efforts to speed up the overall development of agriculture and the rural economy, strive to bring prosperity to the rural areas, make farmers rich and eliminate all vestiges of poverty. All the countries in the region should conduct exchanges and cooperation on the basis of seeking common ground while reserving differences, learning from each other, showing mutual respect and achieving mutual benefit. In addition, all the countries should enlarge their opening, lower tariffs and eliminate trade barriers, so as to enhance common interests.
China, as a member of the Asia-Pacific region, will continue to implement its diplomatic policy of treating neighbors as friends and partners, and strive to make greater contributions to safeguarding regional peace and promoting regional development. We will further expand the opening-up in agriculture, honor our WTO commitments, actively involve in and help propel a new round of multilateral trade negotiations in agriculture. We will actively develop agricultural cooperation with all countries, and pay particular attention to exploring and developing new ways, means and approaches of cooperation with the countries in the Asia-Pacific region with the aim to achieve reciprocal results and benefit the entire people of the region.
Over the past half century, the FAO has played an important role in promoting grain production, agriculture and rural development among all member countries, and has made great contributions to helping the developing countries of the region improve their grain security situation, promote agricultural development and carry out a good anti-poverty strategy. I believe that the FAO will continue to play a positive role in all these fields. Over the years, the FAO has offered positive assistance to China's agricultural and rural economic development, and I'd like to express my thanks and appreciation. In future, the Chinese Government is willing to further strengthen its cooperation with the FAO in an all round way.
The subjects for discussion by representatives of the conference include the role of rice in sustainable agriculture and rural development in the Asia-Pacific region. Other issues of great importance to the regional agricultural development include the situation of genetic resources of the global animal species, the sub-regional food and agricultural situation, the impact of climate changes on Asia and the Pacific, sub-regional strategy for food security and rural development. I believe that through the joint efforts of every representative present, the conference is bound to achieve positive results and generate great momentum in the region's exchanges and cooperation in agriculture.
Let us make joint efforts to continuously promote agricultural development and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, and make great contributions for the realization of the UN millennium development goals.
--Speech by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the World Bank Poverty Alleviation Conference on May 26, 2004
The Global Conference on Scaling Up Poverty Reduction, initiated by the World Bank, opens today. More than 1,000 delegates have gathered here in Shanghai to jointly explore the global poverty relief issue. The international community is turning its attention to the poor, who make up one-sixth of the world's population. This shows the trend of history and the progress of the humanity. On behalf of the Chinese Government and the people, I'd like to express my sincere congratulation on the convening of the conference and my warm welcome to all guests present.
The world is experiencing complex and profound changes, and peace and development is still a main theme of the times. Science and technology is developing by leaps and bounds, the multi-polar world and the economic globalization have created more opportunities for the development of human society. However, the difference between the rich and the poor and between the south and north is expanding. Threats posed by poverty to peace and development have continued unabated. At the Millennium Summit of the United Nations held in 2000, leaders of all countries solemnly passed "Millennium Goals." Over the past four years, all countries have adopted active actions, but due to various reasons, that progress in poverty reduction around the world has fallen short of expectations. Starvation, disease and poverty problems are still plaguing many developing countries. So, fulfilling the targets of poverty reduction and global development remains an uphill battle.
The widespread poverty has diverse social, historical and natural causes, and it is also closely related to the existing unfair and irrational international political and economic order currently in place. Reducing and eliminating poverty is not just limited to the economic realm, but assumes a political dimension. It is not just an urgent task facing individual countries, but a shared responsibility for the international community as a whole. On the occasion of the convening of the conference, we proposed the following aspects:
Striving to create an international and domestic environment of peace and stability. Without peace and stability, development will not be ensured, nor will the elimination of poverty. All countries should energetically strive for safeguarding the world peace and stability and try to realize domestic stability, so as to create a favorable environment for promoting the development and eliminating poverty.
Establishing a new international political and economic order that is fair and rational. All countries should adhere to the principle of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence politically; equality and mutual benefit and realize the common development economically.
Developed countries have a duty and responsibility to provide developing countries with greater aid. In the process of economic globalization, developing countries are usually at the unfavorable position. So, developed countries should show more concern to these countries and offer them more official aids, reduce and exempt debts, speed up technological transfer and get rid of trade protectionism. Only when the economy of the developing countries, especially poor ones, is promoted, can the goal of reducing worldwide poverty be realized.
The developing countries should try to work independently in achieving development. Only through self-reliance and hard work, and by respecting and protecting the freedom and rights of all people in their pursuance of happy life, can the developing countries fundamentally change their poor and backward situation. Developing countries should strengthen cooperation and promote common development.
International organizations should play an enhanced role in global poverty reduction. Solving the poverty problem for more than 1.1 billion population in the world is a big matter relating to the world peace and development. The United Nations and the World Bank and other international organizations should shoulder more responsibilities and mobilize all aspects of forces to fight against poverty.
As a large, populous developing country, China is a principal practitioner in fighting global poverty. Since the founding of new China, particularly the beginning of reform and opening up, China has registered a rapid and sustained economic growth. From 1979 to 2003, China's annual gross domestic product (GDP) grew from 362.4 billion yuan to 11.69 trillion yuan, an increase of 8.4 times after weighing in price fluctuations.
Meanwhile, the average annual growth rate of resident consumption nationwide registered 7 percent, and the country's annual per-capita income reached US$1,090 in 2003. The Chinese people have, on the whole, begun to lead a life of moderate prosperity.
In parallel with China's economic development from the 1980s onward, the Chinese Government introduced a number of large, consistent and productive programs for poverty alleviation and rural development, resulting in over 200 million rural poor having their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter met. This achievement will go down as a remarkable feat in human history.
The Chinese Government attributes the successful poverty reduction work to its efforts in the following aspects:
--Hinging on better use of the superiority of the socialist system and stronger protection of people's rights to subsistence and development. We follow a road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, always taking economic development as our central task, striving to let the common people share the benefits of economic development, and working towards common prosperity, social justice and fairness. In 1994, the Chinese Government formulated the Poverty Alleviation Program (1994-2000) and, in 2001, it launched the Development-Oriented Poverty Reduction Program (2001-2010). These programs target the most urgent issues of inadequate food, clothing and shelter, and have concentrated resources for quick results.
--Upholding a principle of "development-oriented poverty reduction" with a view to strengthening the capacity of the targeted population to fight poverty and attain prosperity. With guidance and enabling schemes, China has made the masses in impoverished areas into principal players in the antipoverty campaign. While maintaining the government's leading role, efforts have been made to bring the marketplace into a full play with stepped up infrastructure development, economic restructuring and exploration of local resources so as to enhance the capacity of poor areas for accumulation of wealth and development. In particular, the promotion of nine-year compulsory education in rural areas has increased the level of education among the poor and enhanced their capacity to find non-agricultural jobs. The level of healthcare for the vast population of farmers and the rural poor has also been raised thanks to improved and reformed health and medical systems in rural China.
--Mobilizing broadest community to join a society-wide campaign against poverty. In carrying forward China's fine traditions of helping the poor and needy, the nation has put in place a number of effective poverty-alleviation programs: These range from the "East-West Partnership" designed to let the more developed coastal areas help the poorer areas in western and central China; "Project Hope," designed to keep poor children in school; the "Glorious Scheme, "allowing private businesses to make contributions to assist the poor; as well as the "Women's Action for the Poor" campaign, designed to encourage women in poor areas to work towards local development. These programs have not only energized poverty reduction in rural areas, but also heightened the sense of responsibility throughout the Chinese society.
Despite rather impressive achievements in poverty alleviation, China remains a developing country with a relatively low income in per-capital terms. As evidence of the rather acute problem of uneven development, China still has nearly 30 million rural citizens who do not have adequate food and clothing, over 20 million urban residents whose incomes are lower than the minimum standard, and over 60 million handicapped citizens in need of help. Poverty alleviation in China remains a daunting task that requires a great deal of hard work.
The first 20 years of this century make up a key period for China's endeavors to build a well-off society in an all-round way. China will adhere to people-oriented principles and achieve comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development. We will try to help a small portion of our population who still live in poverty to have access to adequate food and clothing at an early date in the next 10 years. China will further improve the basic living and production conditions in poor areas so as to secure the achievements already reached in poverty reduction.
We will enhance the quality of the life and over-all capability of the poor population, step up infrastructure building in poor villages, improve the ecosystem, and gradually bring the poor areas out of an economically, socially and culturally backward situation, thus creating favorable conditions for a well-off life. To eliminate poverty in a country of 1.3 billion people is in itself a major contribution to the global cause of poverty reduction.
China's poverty relief campaign has received support provided by other countries, international community and institutions, such as the World Bank, as well as non-governmental organizations. The Chinese Government always cherishes friendship, honors responsibility and keeps good faith. China will do its utmost to promote South-South cooperation, gradually increase its development assistance to poor countries within its own capability and expand its trade and investment with other developing countries.
The Chinese Government is ready to offer some selfless help to international poverty reduction efforts. In addition to a US$50 million pledge to the African Development Fund, China has decided to pledge another US$30 million to the Asian Development Fund. The Chinese Government will contribute an extra US$20 million to the Asia Development Bank to create the China Special Fund for Poverty Reduction and Regional Cooperation, in support of relevant endeavors in the Asia-Pacific region. Eliminating poverty and attaining prosperity is a cherished dream for all. It is also part of mankind's never-ending pursuit of justice, fairness and equality.
Fighting poverty is the duty of all countries and the international community as a whole. Let us work hand in hand towards a better world, a world that is free of poverty with prosperity enjoyed by all.
China has achieved tangible results in poverty relief work and has basically solved the food and clothing needs of the poorer sections of the population, according to the Ministry of Finance.
China is a country in which a great majority of the population still lives in agricultural areas. Poverty is most prevalent among farmers and the poverty relief work has been focused on them. Through two decades of endeavor, the extremely poor section of the population in rural areas has been reduced from 250 million in 1978 to 29 million in 2003, dropping to 3 percent from 30 percent of the total population. In poor rural areas, the food and clothing needs of residents have basically been solved.
The standard (per-capita annual net income in rural areas at 206 yuan in 1985) set for those considered to be living in poverty was based on a calculation made in ! 986 by related government departments after investigating the consumption expenditures of 67,000 rural households. The figure grew to 637 yuan in 2003. This is the minimum amount considered necessary for ensuring an individual's basic subsistence, and is an objective standard that conforms to China's national conditions. After the implementation of the Outline for Poverty Alleviation and Development of China's Rural Areas in 2001, and in light of the low living standard of the poverty-stricken population, the government proposed 865 yuan as the "aid-the-poor" minimum annual amount (882 yuan in 2003). Using this baseline, China now has 85.17 million poverty-stricken people in rural areas, or 9.1 percent of the total rural population, of which, the total number of low-income population with the income of 637-882 yuan came to 56.17 million.
The distribution of China's poverty-stricken population has obvious regional features, with the great majority living in central and western mountainous areas, ethnic minorities inhabited and border areas. To make the best use of poverty relief funds and effectively aid the poor, China decided to concentrate the poverty relief work in 592 counties in these areas. Each province, autonomous region and city also chose 148,000 poverty-stricken villages based on their actual local conditions. These counties and villages accounted for over 60 percent and 80 percent respectively of the rural poor.
Since the implementation of reform and opening up policies in 1978, China has adopted special measures to accelerate the development of poverty-stricken areas while encouraging some regions and individuals to become prosper first. Starting from the mid- 1980s, the government established special organizations to arrange funding and formulate preferential policies, launching large-scale aid-the-poor development projects in rural areas nationwide in a planned way. From 1994 to 2000, the government carried out the State Poverty Relief Program. Entering the new century, it also implemented the Outline for Poverty Alleviation and Development of China's Rural Areas (2001-2010).
Starting from 1980, the Chinese Government increased poverty relief funds annually. Between then and 2003, its input totaled 108.3 billion yuan, with the 2003 input reaching 11.4 billion yuan. About 65 percent of the money from the central financial allocation was used to improve basic production conditions and provide practical technical training, and 35 percent was allocated as work relief funds mainly used in capital construction of agriculture, rural roads and drinking water construction for both people and domestic animals. At the same time, local financial support for poverty relief work has been enhanced.
The government also regularly provides poverty relief loans to support farmers to develop cultivation and breeding industries, as well as for small-sized processing and other profit-making projects. In 2003, the amount of the loan was 18.5 billion yuan, the total amount from 1980 to 2003 reaching 146.1 billion yuan.
In addition, China also formulated a series of preferential policies for poverty-stricken areas and farming households, such as exemption from grain purchase quota set by the state, properly extending the usage period of the poverty relief loans, easing the conditions of mortgages and insurance requirements, and reducing and exempting them from agricultural tax and the special farm produce tax.
The Taiwan Work Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council were authorized on May 17 to issue a statement on current cross-strait relations. The full text of the statement is as follows:
At present, the relations across the Taiwan Strait are severely tested. To put a resolute check on "Taiwan independence" activities aimed at splitting China and safeguarding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait region is the most pressing task before the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Four years ago, Chen Shui-bian pledged himself to the so-called "four no's and one no question" policy (namely, no declaration of "Taiwan independence," no inclusion of the so-called "state-to-state" description in the constitution, no alteration of the so-called "national title," and no referendum on the question of independence, and there is no question of abolishing the Guidelines for National Unification or the National Unification Council--Ed.).
His track record, however, was one of broken promises and bad faith. He said he would not declare "independence," but he has mustered together all kinds of separatist forces for "Taiwan independence" activities. He said he would not change Taiwan's so-called "national title," but he has incessantly clamored for "rectification of Taiwan's name" and "desinicization" in Taiwan. He said he would not push for the inclusion of the so-called "state-to-state" description in the constitution, but he has dished out a separatist proposition of "one country on each side." He said he would not promote "a referendum to change the status quo in regard to the question of independence or unification," but he has tried every possible means to promote "Taiwan independence" by way of a referendum. He said there was no question of abolishing the "National Unification Council'' and the "National Unification Guidelines," but he has long since shelved them, letting them exist only in name. What's more, Chen Shui-bian has left Taiwan society deeply torn with his vicious mischaracterization of the popular will of the Taiwan people, his unbridled instigation of hostility and animosity toward the mainland, and his frenzied provocation of the status quo that both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and same China. He has even put out a timetable to move the island to independence through the writing of a new "constitution," thus pushing the cross-strait relations to the brink of disaster.
"Taiwan independence" does not lead to peace, nor does national dismemberment to stability. We will never compromise on the one-China principle, never give up our efforts for peace negotiations, never falter in our sincere pursuit of peace and development on both sides of the Taiwan Strait with our Taiwan compatriots, never waver in our resolve to safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and never put up with "Taiwan independence."
No matter who holds power in Taiwan in the next four years, as long as they recognize that there is only one China in the world and both the mainland and Taiwan belong to that one and same China, abandon the "Taiwan Independence" stance and stop the separatist activities, then, cross-strait relations can hold out a bright prospect of peace, stability and development along the following lines:
--Resuming cross-strait dialogue and negotiations, formally ending the state of hostility through consultations, establishing a mechanism of mutual trust in the military field, and jointly building a frame-work for peaceful and stable development of cross-strait relations.
--Maintaining close links in an appropriate manner between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait so as to address the problems in cross-strait relations through timely consultations.
--Realizing comprehensive, direct and two-way "three links" so as to facilitate economic and trade, exchanges, travel, tourism and other activities by compatriots on both sides.
--Establishing closer economic cooperation arrangements on the basis of reciprocity and mutual benefit. Taiwan can optimize its industrial structure and upgrade its enterprise competitiveness in the course of cross-strait economic exchanges and cooperation and join the mainland in meeting the challenges of economic globalization and regional integration. Taiwan can also acquire greater market access on the mainland for its farm produces.
--Increasing exchanges between compatriots on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait in the interest of removing misunderstanding, enhancing mutual trust and building common ground.
--Taiwan compatriots can realize their aspirations for cross-strait peace, social stability and economic prosperity while enjoying harmony and tranquility in cross-strait ties.
--Properly addressing, through consultations, the issue of international living space of the Taiwan region commensurate to its status so as to share the dignity of the Chinese nation.
If, however, the Taiwan leaders cling to their "Taiwan independence" stance and their separatist position of "one country on each side," the aforementioned prospect will not materialize. What is more, hopes for peace, stability, mutual benefit and a win-win scenario in cross-strait relations will evaporate.
The Taiwan leaders have two roads before them: One is to pull back immediately from their dangerous journey toward independence, recognize that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to the one and same China and dedicate their efforts to closer cross-strait relations. The other is to keep following their separatist agenda to cut Taiwan off from China and, in the end, to meet their own destruction by playing with fire. The Taiwan leaders must choose between these two roads. The Chinese people are not afraid of ghosts, nor will they be intimidated by brutal force. To the Chinese people, nothing is more important and more sacred than safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their country. We will do our utmost with the maximum sincerity to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification of the motherland. However, if Taiwan leaders should move recklessly to provoke major incidents of "Taiwan independence," the Chinese people will crush their schemes firmly and thoroughly at any cost.