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Senior UN Official Lauds China's Contribution to Global MDGs

China has made enormous achievements in realizing its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), rendering an important contribution to the global endeavor to meet the targets, United Nations Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang has said.

"China is the country that has been the most successful and most effective in realizing its Millennium Development Goals, and as an important player and the most populous developing nation, made significant contributions to the global efforts in achieving MDGs," Sha told Xinhua in an interview on the eve of a high-level meeting at the United Nations on the MDGs.

Representatives from more than 150 countries, including about 90 heads of state and government, are expected to take part in the one-day gathering scheduled for September 25.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will deliver a keynote speech at the opening session.

"It is known to all that the Chinese government and people have exerted arduous efforts and made great achievements in realizing the MDGs," Sha said. "China has met the target of halving the number of people living on less than a dollar a day well ahead of schedule."

In 2001-2006, the central government spent a total of 70.9 billion yuan (about US$10.37 billion) in poverty reduction efforts, Sha said in the interview, which was conducted in Chinese.

China has also fulfilled the target of ensuring all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling. Since 2007, tuition and miscellaneous fees have all been wavered for the country's 148 million pupils in rural areas, a measure being extended to urban areas this fall.

Steady progress has also been reported in reducing by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five and in improving maternal health.

China faces grave challenges in checking the spread of HIV/AIDS and in ensuring environmental sustainability, and the government is beefing up policy measures and increasing input in these respects.

Globally, Sha said, the picture has been mixed in meeting the MDGs -- eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world's main development challenges.

While the number of people in abject poverty has been falling, progress has been slow in some countries, especially those in Sub-Sahara Africa. It appears likely that some countries would miss the 2015 deadline in reducing by half the poverty-stricken population, he said.

Though the mortality rate among children under five has dropped somewhat worldwide, more than 60 countries have not met present targets, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where child deaths account for half of the global total.

The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.

The eight goals involve eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empower women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a Global Partnership for Development.

"We have now reached the mid-point in realizing the MDGs before2015," Sha said. "Although many developing countries have made due progress in meeting some of the MDGs, there have been great disparities among countries and between different areas within some countries."

"The overall situation brooks no optimism, which makes the upcoming high-level meeting all the more timely and important," Sha said.

The event, which includes three roundtables, will provide a forum for world leaders, the civil society, the private sector and other players to review progress, identify gaps, seek consensus, and come up with new measures to honor pledges aimed at facilitating the realization of the eight development goals, Sha said.

(Xinhua News Agency September 22, 2008)

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