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China leads in poverty reduction
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08:55, October 10, 2007

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China is leading the way in reducing poverty in the Asia-Pacific region, and contributing to other regional efforts like reforestation and energy efficiency, according to an international report.

In 1990, one person in three lived in poverty in China, while today the number is less than one in 10, said the report, jointly drafted by the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank, titled "The Millennium Development Goals: Progress in Asia and the Pacific 2007", released in Manila on Monday

The millennium goals range from halving extreme poverty to reducing child mortality, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, providing universal primary education, and providing access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities by the target year of 2015.

They formed a blueprint in 2000 which was agreed upon by all nations and international development institutions.

According to the report, issued half way toward the target date, China has reduced its level of hunger and malnutrition below the regional average, and in some cities the rate is now close to zero.

Liu Fuhe, spokesman for the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, said last month that the country had already achieved the goal of cutting the poverty-stricken population by half.

Official statistics show that by the end of 2006, the number of poverty-stricken people in rural areas suffering from food and clothes shortages fell from 250 million to 21.48 million.

Despite that, there is still a problem of unbalanced development, Liu told a news conference.

Poverty relief efforts now face a new challenge, Professor Li Shi of Beijing Normal University was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

"The biggest problem that China now has to deal with is how to help poverty-stricken populations gain the opportunities and conditions needed for development," Li said.

Meanwhile, China's reforestation efforts have helped the Asia-Pacific region register an increase of forests, and the country has managed to double its energy efficiency since 1990, said the report.

The country is also well on track for other indicators such as promoting gender equality and empowering women, improving maternal health and reducing child mortality, said the report.

However, a lot has still to be done to attain the goal of halving the proportion of rural people without access to safe drinking water, while the number of HIV patients is rising faster in the country than the average increase in the Asia-Pacific region, said the report.

Source: Xinhua - China Daily

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