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Deputy UN Chief: China Becoming Engine for World Economy

Three decades after the advent of its reforms and opening up, China has become another engine driving the world economy in addition to the United States, UN Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang has said.

China has enjoyed 30 years of continuous and rapid development, expanding its economic aggregate by nearly 15 times and its foreign trade more than 100 times, a sustained fast growth rare in modern world history, Sha told Xinhua in a recent interview in his office at the UN headquarters in New York.

Measured by gross domestic product, China's economic aggregate now ranks the third in the world. It stands likely to become the largest exporter and the biggest manufacturing powerhouse in 2009, said the under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs.

"China's contributions to world economic growth in the past few years are comparable to that of the United States," Sha said, "It has become yet another engine driving world economic growth."

Its contributions to reducing global poverty have also been there for all to see, he said. Over the past 30 years, about 500 million Chinese people have emerged from abject poverty, meeting the target of halving such population as listed in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) well ahead of the 2015 deadline.

China, the world's most populous country, has been transformed into a world economic giant, with ever greater influence on world economy, Sha said.

Despite all the progress, he noted that China's per capita income remains well below the world average and far behind the income levels of many developed countries.

As a low-to-medium-income developing economy, China faces a myriad of challenges such as bridging the widening gap between the rich and poor and protecting the environment amid rapid economic growth, he said, stressing that all these are problems in the process of development and can be addressed through further deepening reforms and pushing forward wider opening-up.

The Chinese government has in recent years come up with such concepts as "human-oriented" governance and building a harmonious society, emphasizing the quality of development, rather than simply pursuing faster GDP growth, Sha noted.

These guiding principles, he said, have laid a policy foundation for handling new problems cropping up in the process of development and ensuring sustained growth of China's economy.

Sha attributed China's success to its emphasis on development, its efforts to choose development path in line with its specific conditions, and its stepwise reform and opening-up rather than the so-called "shock therapy" championed by some.

On the relationship between China's reforms and opening up on the one hand and the development of the United Nations on the other, Sha said development is one of the three pillars of UN work, and it is also the foundation for the other two pillars -- peace and security, and human rights.

"China's achievements in its 30 years of reforms and opening up accord with the United Nations' tenets of promoting common development in the world," Sha said.

One of the key factors behind China's success in its reforms and opening up has been its adherence to proceeding from the country's actual conditions, he said.

"A country has to mainly count on its own efforts to develop," Sha said, "You may draw on other countries' experience in development, but cannot be copied or 'transplanted' it"

"It is imperative to study and explore in line with a country's actual conditions. There is neither ready 'blueprints', nor shortcuts," he said. "Overseas investments and foreign trade can all be utilized, but a country bears primary responsibility for its own development."

On China's cooperation with other developing economies, Sha said China has all along attached great importance to such cooperation and actively promoted cooperation among developing nations through frameworks such as the Group of 77 and China mechanism in a bid to safeguard the rights and interests of developing countries.

Sha also praised the assistance offered by the United Nations to China in its reforms and opening up, mainly in the areas of policy advices, information, and technical assistance and cooperation.

As China's economy grows stronger, the modalities and priorities of UN support are also changing, moving gradually from mainly assistance, as was the case in the past, to mainly exchanges and cooperation, he noted.

At a time of ever more profound economic globalization, Sha said, both China and the rest of the world have become increasingly indispensable to each other.

There is a solid foundation and broad vista for cooperation between China, the world's largest developing country and fastest growing economy, and the United Nations, the most authoritative and broadest represented intergovernmental world body, in the field of development, Sha said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 6, 2008)

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