A report released Thursday by the United Nations (UN) in Beijing at the opening of the three-day High-Level International Conference on the Millennium Development Goals stated that while China had made remarkable achievements in many areas, much still needed to be done to attain its stated goals.
The conference is jointly held by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and offices of UN organizations in China.
The Millennium Development Goals grew out of a gathering of 189 world leaders at the UN in September 2000, when the Millennium Declaration was proclaimed.
China was among the first countries to submit their national agendas to fulfill the goals.
The UN report, named "Millennium Development Goals: China's Progress," is seen as a "frank and unprecedented" UN assessment of China's progress toward reaching its eight development goals.
The report concludes that China will probably achieve most of its Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Positive aspects include the fact that China has reduced the proportion of people living below minimum dietary consumption levels from 17 percent in 1990 to 11 percent in 2000 and that the percentage of underweight children also fell from 21 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 1998.
In addition, China is ahead of target in ensuring that all children will be enrolled in primary school by 2015. It has raised the net primary school enrollment rate from 96.3 percent in 1990 to 98.6 percent in 2002.
China is also on track to achieving the goals of reducing infant and under-five mortality rates and improving maternal health care, the report notes.
But the report also calls for more attention to targets like equal access to primary and secondary education for boys and girls by 2005, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015, halving the incidence of tuberculosis by 2015 and implementing national strategies for sustainable development by 2005 to reverse the loss of environmental resources by 2015.
It suggests targets that are behind schedule be put on track with more attention to balanced development.
Zhou Hailin, a researcher with the administrative center for China's millennium agenda under the Ministry of Science and Technology, said the UN report is basically reasonable.
What is important is the fact that the Chinese government does not shun the problems and is willing to see the problems raised, he said.
"I am sure the report will be carefully studied and taken into consideration when related departments draft their next five-year plan," he said.
China's target is to build a prosperous society in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals on poverty reduction and social development, said Zhu Zhixin, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission in a keynote speech at the conference.
Zhu said the goals will help Chinese officials at all levels implement the concept of inclusive, balanced and sustainable growth.
(China Daily March 26, 2004)