As mankind embraces the dawn of the new millennium, a new chapter has opened in the history of civilizations. The United Nations has once again directed world's attention to the issue of Africa's sustainable development. This reflects the essential human reason and conscience as well as a sense of urgency and responsibility on the part of the international community. We are grateful to the Secretary-General for his report on this topic, which has provided the basis for our discussion on how to bring into full play the role of the UN in promoting sustainable development in Africa.
While the industrialized nations enjoy the rich returns from progress in high technology and globalization and anticipate the bright prospects of information society and digital economy, the vast African continent is still mired in poverty, backwardness, wars, conflicts and diseases. Africa's population accounts for 18.5% of the world's population, yet its GDP represents only 3.8% of the world's total, and its share of world's exports is only 1.5%, with less than 2% of world's FDIs. More than half of the African population still lives in abject poverty, and the HIV/AIDs affected population has reached as many as 25.3 million. Some African countries are being further marginalized in the process of globalization.
It should be pointed out that the prolonged state of poverty and underdevelopment in Africa is not conducive to the world economy. Nor does it serve the fundamental interests of the international community including the developed countries. In the UN Millennium Declaration, world's leaders have committed themselves to reduce world's poor by half in 15 years. The key to achieve this goal lies in Africa.
Peace and development have been the two major issues faced by the African countries for a long time. Peace and stability are the pre-conditions and foundation for sustainable development. Since the 1990s, with the increased international peace-keeping efforts, Africa's situation has been to an extent relaxed. It is necessary to assess positively the role of the international community in helping Africa achieve peace. Yet, the crux of the issue for Africa is development. History tells us that there shall be no enduring peace amidst hunger and poverty. We note with concern that the ODA flows to Africa dropped by 35% between 1994 and 1999. We believe that while maintaining its concern for peace in Africa, the international community should pay attention to the issue of Africa's development. Peace-keeping inputs should not become the excuse for reducing development assistance.
In order to remove poverty and achieve development, African countries have made tremendous efforts and also paid a heavy price. The international community, especially the developed countries, has the duty and responsibility to help African countries achieve sustainable development. I would like to emphasize here that it is necessary to reverse the trend of declining ODA so that it could reach the promised 0.7% of the GNP of the developed countries within a specified timeframe; to relieve the heavy debt burden of many African countries so that they can devote their energy, limited resources and gains to sustainable development; to expand and improve the market access for African products, including zero tariff and quota-free access for those African exports that enjoy comparative advantages, and usher in a benign cycle for Africa's production and trade; to transfer applied technology to Africa so that science and technology can play a catalyst role in the African economy; and to help Africa fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases so as to mitigate their adverse impact on Africa's human resources.
In recent years, to strengthen unity, remove poverty and seek development, the African countries have worked out on their own some plans and programs for regional and sub-regional cooperation. We hope that the international community, especially the developed countries, will pay sufficient attention and render practical support to these plans and programs.
The UN system has been playing an important and irreplaceable role in promoting Africa's development and poverty alleviation. The Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on the Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa has made tremendous efforts in securing lasting peace and sustainable development in Africa. We would like to express our appreciation for its work and hope that the Ad Hoc Group will achieve more substantial results in this regard. Since the important role of information and communication technologies in poverty eradication has become increasingly evident, it is also our ardent hope that the newly established ICT Task Force will give special attention to Africa. At the same time, we appeal to the United Nations to continue its support for African countries in their combat against such diseases as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tubercles.
In recent years, many proposals and programs have been put forward within the United Nations system on how to promote development in Africa. Parties concerned have made praise-worthy efforts in realizing sustainable development. However, with the unceasing decrease of core funding, the role of the United Nation in the development of Africa and the progress of its work has been seriously affected. The fact that from 1992 to 1999, development assistance from the United Nations to Africa dropped by 26.5% sends a dangerous signal. Without continuous inputs, efforts already made are likely to be wasted. Therefore, it has become a matter of priority to provide adequate financial support to the operational activities of the United Nations for development and to better implement the program of assistance for Africa. Meanwhile, we are also of the view that, given the situation of extremely limited resources, the United Nations should play a coordinating role so as to avoid repetition of programs and duplication of institutions and to ensure that resources allocated to projects can be put to their best use in the course of promoting the development of Africa.
For a long time, China has maintained friendly cooperation with Africa on the basis of equality and mutual benefits. Last October, the Ministerial Conference of the Forum of Sino-African Cooperation was successfully held in Beijing. Almost 80 ministers from 45 African states and close to 20 regional organizations participated in the conference. The conference adopted the Beijing Declaration of the Forum of Sino-African Cooperation and the Guideline for Sino-African Cooperation in Economic and Social Development. The two documents, comprehensively elaborating the views shared by China and African states on the establishment of a new international political and economic order, have outlined a new framework for the development of Sino-African relationship and a new blueprint for Sino-African cooperation in the future.
In order to implement the follow-up to the Forum and to continue its support for the economic and social development of African countries, the Chinese government has set up a Committee on Follow-Up, which consists of members from 21 ministries and departments. China will try her best to provide Africa with assistance in as many ways as possible and, based on her own economic capabilities, gradually increase the scale of assistance and improve the institutional framework so that China's assistance will better meet the needs of the African countries. China has decided to alleviate the heavily indebted poor and least developed African countries of their debts to China of 10 billion RMB in the next two years, to earmark funds to encourage and support Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa, and, other things being equal, give priority to Africa so as to expand its exports to China. We have also established a Fund for Human Resources Development of Africa, which provides professional training for African countries.
We have an old saying in China. A whole year's work depends on a good start in spring. A whole day's work depends on a good start in the morning. It is our hope that the United Nations and the international community will seize the historic opportunity that comes with the beginning of the millennium, overcome the difficulties, and help realize economic and social development in Africa in a comprehensive way.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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