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UN, China find paths are crossing

    BEIJING, Mar. 24 -- The United Nations and China discovered yesterday their goals are inexplicably linked as both seek to build a "xiaokang" society - or a well-off society in an all-round way.

    The UN Development Programme and the National Development and Reform Commission yesterday launched a scheme to enrich China's development with UN goals.

    The programme will make the country's commitment to creating a fair community reflect the principles of UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted by world leaders at UN summit in 2000.

    Human-centred development goals and targets including poverty-reduction, education promotion, health data and environment protection will be included in the framework of China's "well-off society in an all-round way," also known in Chinese as xiaokang.

    "Given the strong convergence between the two, there is a unique opportunity for China to integrate xiaokang and the MDGs," said Khalid Malik, UN Resident Co-ordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in China.

    China's leadership has come up with a blueprint to realize "all-around xiaokang" by 2020. That means per capita gross domestic product (GDP) will rise to US$3,000 then from US$1,000 of per capita GDP in 2003, an indicator China regarded as "low-level and unbalanced" xiaokang.

    UNDP official said the organization is also trying to improve awareness of balanced development among 900 senior Chinese officials by providing training held at home and abroad over the next five years.

    "We have already entered an agreement with the Party's Organization Department and this was part of the programme," said UNDP programme assistant Cui Jing.

    The officials are to be trained to at least vice-minister level, said Cui, but she refused to go into further details.

    With a combined investment of US$10 million by UNDP and the Chinese Government, the programme is designed to help China develop a broader definition, concepts, goals and indicators of development.

    It will also seek to refine the instruments to measure development outcomes and enhance leadership capacities.

    Variety of targets

    Daniel J. Deduk, chief economist with the US-based Environmental Defence, said that different regions in the country should have environmental protection targets by 2020.

    "Xiaokang is not only about having wealth. The basic principle is that we protect human health by providing quality environment," said Deduk, whose organization is a leading non-governmental environmental one in the US.

    "When outlining targets on environmental protection, the (Chinese) Government should look at regional difference in economic and social development," Deduk suggested.

    Zhu Zhixin, NDRC vice-minister, said the programme would help assist China to develop its 11th Five Year (2006-10) Plan of Economic and Social Development.

    Zhu said it's vital to share an expanded vision of development, one that vigorously promotes human development as the key to sustaining social and economic progress in all countries, and recognizes the importance of creating a global partnership for development.

(Source: China Daily)

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