China generous despite its own problemsTuesday, October 05, 2010
BY KIMONE THOMPSON Features Editor -- Sunday firstname.lastname@example.org
A hundred and fifty million of its people live on less than US$1.25 per day and 10 million have no access to electricity. It has the second largest number of poor people in the world and its GDP per capita ranks 100th.
Still, China has pledged to do more to assist fellow developing countries like Jamaica meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 target.
China plans to donate US$14 million to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the course of the next three years, and it is to cancel the debt of 50 "heavily indebted" poor countries and least developed countries.
The Asian country will also focus on the health, education, environment and agriculture sectors. Its plan involves building 200 schools, dispatching 3,000 medical experts, training 5,000 medical personnel, providing medical equipment and medicines to 100 hospitals, and building 200 clean energy and environment protection projects.
In the next five years, it will dispatch 3,000 agricultural experts, provide 5,000 agriculture-related training opportunities, and enhance co-operation in agricultural planning, hybrid rice, aquaculture, farmland water conservancy and agricultural machinery.
Also in the next five years, China says it intends to provide 80,000 training opportunities in various fields, as well as more scholarships for higher education and training to 3,000 school principals and teachers.
In addition, the country will continue to extend financial support across the developing world and will increase assistance in disaster prevention and mitigation.
Chinese ambassador to Jamaica Chen Jinghua made the announcements last week at a reception at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in observance of the 61st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1. His pronouncements were in tandem with the presentation in September of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao at the United Nations summit in New York.
China's current involvement in Jamaica includes the financing of several projects such as the Montego Bay Convention Centre, the Palisadoes Shoreline Protection works, and the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme. China has also provided support for the Confucius Institute at the University of the West Indies; taken over the operation of local sugar companies, and offers scholarships and other training opportunities to Jamaican professionals.
The country could well use its resources for its own development, the ambassador told the Observer last week, but to do so would counter its foreign policy. In any event, the ambassador said, helping would not jeopardise China's own ability to meet the MDGs.
"Friendship does have a place in our relations with other states. We think it's better to make friends than to make enemies... so common development is our goal," the ambassador said.
"In China, of course, we need to close the widening gap between the rich and the poor. We need to create a situation where every country benefits from common development, from China's development. We want to create a more harmonious world, but unless you can ensure that everybody can benefit from the foreign relations, we cannot expect to create a more harmonious world in the future," he added, explaining part of his country's philosophy.
The diplomat said helping poorer states was not a new phenomenon for China, indicating that it started foreign aid 60 years ago.
"We started lending a helping hand to poor brothers and sisters in developing countries 60 years ago. Just shortly after the founding of the People's Republic of China some poor countries came seeking help. We were then much poorer but we decided that since we belong to the same group of countries, that is developing countries, we squeezed our belt and saved some money to help our friends in Africa and neighbouring countries."
Now that China is more economically powerful — second only to the US in terms of GDP and with an economic growth rate of 11.1 per cent for the first half of 2010 — it is in a better position to help and it wants to.
In the aftermath of the flood in Pakistan in July, China pledged RMB320 million yuan (about US$47 million) in humanitarian assistance and dispatched a relief team to the worst-hit areas. Last month she pledged an additional US$200 million.
"(Poverty) is a big challenge for China, but we're confident that we will meet the MDGs," he said, explaining that each government ministry was assigned specific areas which they are responsible for lifting out of poverty.
"The way of doing this is not just to hand out money, that's the easy way, but it cannot be sustained. What we do is to make the people of the poor areas be able to equip themselves with the necessary capabilities to produce more, to support themselves, to supply them with the necessary education, maybe some equipment and maybe some money, but it's a comprehensive plan to help them raise their living standard and increase their income," the ambassador said.
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