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Chinese Foreign Ministry Hosts Briefing on Premier Wen’s Upcoming Attendance of the UN High-Level Event on the MDG and the 63rd UN General Assembly General Debate

On September 19, 2008, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing for Chinese and foreign journalists. Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei, Deputy Director General Lu Xiaoping of the Department of International Cooperation and Deputy Director General Huang Yanxin of the Department of Policy and Regulation of the Ministry of Agriculture, and Deputy Director General Gao Yuanyuan of the Department of Foreign Aid of the Ministry of Commerce introduced Premier Wen Jiabao’s upcoming attendance of the UN High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the general debate of the 63rd UN General Assembly and China’s implementation of the MDG and cooperation with other developing nations respectively. Deputy Director General Qin Gang of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the briefing.

According to He Yafei, it is another major multilateral diplomatic activity of China that Premier Wen will head a delegation to attend the UN meetings following China’s successful hosting of the Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Today, the international situation is generally stable, but there remain many local conflicts and hot issues, especially such serious issues as the increasing imbalance of global economy, finance, energy and food security, posing challenges and difficulties to world peace and development. It is against such a background that the 63rd UN General Assembly will be convened. It is said that heads of state and government of nearly 140 countries will be present at this year’s General Assembly, which demonstrates the hope of countries that the UN can play a more active and important role of pushing forward the multilateral cooperation to jointly cope with global challenges.

He noted that 2008 is the mid-term assessment year of the MDG. Since the UN Millennium Summit adopted the Millennium Declaration in 2000, certain progress has been achieved in implementing the MDG. But the overall process is slow, with unbalanced development among regions. The African region faces particularly heavy difficulties. To realize the MDG throughout the world as scheduled faces severe challenges. So it is of special significance that the UN holds the High-Level Event on the MDG. The meeting will focus on the implementation of the goals worldwide and the fulfillment of commitment by developed countries to international development aid. It is believed that the event will encourage the political will of parties concerned to strengthen the global development partnership and help the developing countries realize the MDG as soon as possible. In that regard, China has made big contributions, and we are willing to continue to exchange experience with all the related parties.

He then introduced the schedule of Premier Wen during the meetings: addressing the opening ceremony of the High-Level Event on the MDG to introduce China’s implementation of the goals and South-South cooperation, raising initiatives on how countries around the world should tackle development challenges and solve development difficulties and explaining expectations on the comprehensive implementation of the MDG. Premier Wen will also attend and address the general debate of the 63rd General Assembly to elaborate China’s internal and foreign policies and reiterate its determination of unswervingly following the road of peaceful development, pursuing reform and opening up and sticking to the independent foreign policy of peace. Wen will hold talks with a number of leaders of foreign countries and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, participate in several bilateral activities hosted by the US, meet with the representatives of overseas Chinese, Chinese-funded organizations and students abroad as well as the media.

He finally stressed that China, as a permanent member of the Security Council and the biggest developing country in the world, always supports the important and active role of the UN in international affairs. We hope that the attendance of Premier Wen of the two UN meetings will fully demonstrate China’s firm support for multilateralism, the work of the UN and the process of the MDG as well as the country’s determination of joining hands with all the other nations to build a harmonious world with lasting peace and common prosperity.

Huang explained China’s efforts of implementing the MDG from the perspectives of poverty relief and sustainable agricultural development. China’s reform and opening up started from the rural area. Over the past 3 decades since the launch of reform and opening up, the Chinese government has strengthened protection of arable land and at the same time increased investment in constructing water conservancy works, improving production conditions and spreading the use of advanced technologies. As a result, the sustainability of its agricultural development has been enhanced and China is able to feed more than a billion of population. The grain output of China increased from 609.54 billion jin in 1978 to 1003 billion jin in 2007. The global grain supply has been tightened and price hiked since last year, but China manages to basically stabilize grain supply and demand as well as price, which is a huge contribution made by the Chinese agriculture to the stable development of China’s national economy and world agriculture as well. China has made remarkable achievements in terms of poverty relief over the past 30 years. According to the poverty standard of the Chinese government, in China, the number of absolute poor rural population who do not have adequate access to food and clothing decreased from 250 million in 1978 to 14.79 million in 2007, with the proportion to the total rural population dropping from 30.7% to 1.6%; the number of low-income poor population fell from 62.13 million in 2000 to 28.41 million in 2007, with the proportion to the total rural population down from 6.7% to 3%. The outcome of China’s poverty relief and development has accelerated the global efforts of poverty reduction. According to the data of certain international organization, the proportion of the Chinese population who are lifted out of poverty to the global total has exceeded 70% from 1990 to 2007. China is the first country to reach the goal set by the MDG of halving its poor population ahead of schedule.

Lu Xiaoping introduced China’s agricultural cooperation with other developing nations. He said that China has helped promote world agricultural production and food security through exchanges and cooperation with other developing countries. China has established an effective and pragmatic agricultural cooperation mechanism with other developing countries to share information, carry out joint researches and exchange technologies. It helps some developing countries build agricultural technology demonstration centers and farms to share its successful experience and usual technologies of agricultural development. China also actively assists other developing countries in human resources development, capacity building and improving agricultural operation and management.

Gao Yuanyuan described the basic landscape of China’s foreign aid. She noted that China has offered various assistances to more than 120 countries under the framework of South-South cooperation since the 1950s. Such assistances involve nearly 2,000 projects in the fields of infrastructure construction, technical training, debt exemption, agriculture, medical care and health and education. China has trained more than 100,000 talents for 169 countries, sent 20,000 medical team members and 204 young volunteers. It also reduced or exempted 376 debts of 49 heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries without any conditions. China always stands ready to provide timely assistance to those countries which suffer humanitarian disasters. China fully respects the will and needs of the recipient countries when offering foreign aid which has promoted the local economic and social development and contributed to the global poverty relief undertaking. Entering the new century, while accelerating its own development, China follows the principle of acting according to its ability to continue to expand assistance and make joint efforts with the international community to realize the MDG. At the 2005 UN Financing for Development Conference and 2006 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), President Hu Jintao announced China’s 5 and 8 policy measures with the developing countries and Africa respectively, with focus on reinforcing cooperation in agriculture, medical care and health and education. So far, China has decided to grant zero-tariff treatment to 42 least developed countries which have diplomatic relations with the country. Such a policy has been put into practice with 39 countries.

They then answered questions of the journalists.

On the question whether the gloomy world economic situation will influence the realization of the MDG, He Yafei said that the international economic landscape, although allowing for no optimism, enjoys a more solid foundation than in the past. Meanwhile, the big number of national leaders to be present at the High-Level Event on the MDG shows the political will of countries to implement the MDG. He expressed confidence that the difficulties will be overcome with their joint efforts of coping with the challenges.

As to how can China participate more in the UN affairs, He Yafei answered that China firmly supports the role of the UN and comprehensively and deeply participates in its work. Up to now, China has attended 10 UN peacekeeping operations involving more than 1,900 Chinese, which is the biggest number among the 5 Security Council permanent members. China proposes to solve regional hot issues peacefully through consultations and dialogues. It has been fulfilling its due obligations unconditionally and paying UN membership assessment actively. As its national strength grows, China’s assessment rate has increased from 0.995% in 2000 to 2.667% in 2007, the ninth in the world and the first among developing countries. China helps other developing countries through multilateral and bilateral channels. Our assistance does not attach any political conditions.

Concerning the UN reform, He said that China supports the necessary and reasonable reform of the Security Council with the purpose of making the Security Council more authoritative and efficient. The reform should first of all consider increasing the representation of African countries, secondly follow the easy first principle and thirdly reach the widest consensuses possible through democratic discussions.

With regard to China’s assistance to African countries, Gao Yuanyuan replied that the Chinese government has offered various assistances to 53 African countries, helped build over 800 complete projects, trained nearly 30,000 talents for Africa, exempted 308 debts of 34 heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries on the continent and sent 10,000 person-times of medical teams to 43 African countries. It has also provided a large amount of production and living materials of which the African nations are in urgent need. The aid measures announced by President Hu at the FOCAC Beijing Summit are being implemented steadily. China has signed bilateral aid agreements with 48 countries, and the African Union Conference Center construction project will kick off before the end of this year. We have entered into protocols on debt relief with 32 countries, trained 8,627 talents, dispatched 100 agricultural professionals and built 35 schools for 17 countries. In addition, the projects on credit with favorable conditions, agricultural technology demonstration centers, hospitals, anti-malarial centers and delivery of anti-malarial drugs have all made progresses.

Concerning the impact of increasing world grain price on the rural population of China, Huang Yanxin said that the Chinese government always attaches great importance to food security and addressing food supply and demand by depending mainly on its own resources and endeavors. China’s grain output has increased for 4 consecutive years from 2004 to 2007. China has had another harvest this summer, so food supply in China is guaranteed. The hike of international grain price will not have a big impact on the rural area of China.

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