Beijing’s May features a crisp sky and clear air. At such a beautiful season, the 27th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific is held here. I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government and people, heartfelt congratulations on the convocation of the conference and warm welcome to all delegates and guests present.
Agriculture is a strategic industry underpinning world stability. It is of vital and fundamental significance to economic and social development, improvement of people’s livelihood and maintenance of social stability. For years, governments of Asia-Pacific countries have attached great importance to agriculture, energetically promoted agricultural development and scored remarkable achievements in this regard. Thanks to their efforts over the years, hunger and poverty in the region are on the decrease. Due to constraints of natural conditions and the impact of political, economic and social factors, however, agricultural development remains quite uneven in the region and still faces some harsh difficulties and challenges. We should pay high attention to agricultural development, strengthen cooperation and make concerted efforts to improve the overall level of agricultural development, so as to lay a more solid foundation for faster development of the region and improvement of people’s living standards.
China is a big agricultural producer and a big consumer of agricultural products. In a country like China, that has a population of 1.3 billion, agricultural development and food producing capacity always play a decisive role in its stability and the people’s livelihood. We deeply understand that, to resolve the issue of agricultural development in China is not only vital to the country’s own economic development and social stability, but also of great significance to the economic development and food security of the region and the world at large. The Chinese Government has all along set great store by agricultural development, regarded agriculture as the basis of the national economy, and taken a series of legislative and policy measures to promote agricultural development. Thanks to the inception of the policy of reform and opening up in the late 1970s, the initiative of millions of Chinese farmers has been stimulated and China’s comprehensive farming capability improved considerably. As a result, China is able to achieve the historic transformation from chronic short supply of major agricultural products to a general equilibrium in aggregate demand and supply and even supply surplus in abundant years, and with its own efforts, provide enough food, clothing and shelter to its 1.3 billion people. Now China ranks first in the world in the output of such agricultural products as grains, meat, poultry and eggs, fruit, aquatic products, and cotton. Nonetheless, we must be soberly aware that, due to its large population, low per capita level of arable land, inadequate water resources, delicate eco-system, and low agro-science level, China is still faced with a number of difficulties in improving its agricultural production level and realizing sustainable agricultural development. These difficulties call for our constant, prolonged and strenuous efforts to overcome.
At present, the Chinese people are working in unity towards a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. Our goal is to ensure that China’s GDP reaches 4 trillion US dollars by the year 2020, quadrupling that of 2000, the per capita GDP reaches 3,000 US dollars, and make greater strides in economic development, democracy, science and education, culture, social harmony and people’s living standards. To develop a modern agriculture and the rural economy and increase our farmers’ income are at the centre of our efforts to build a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. We have made it clear the we will foster and earnestly adopt the approach that puts people first and stresses comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development. We will make it our top priority to resolve the issues related to agriculture, the rural area and farmers, further strengthen the basic role of agriculture, and promote sustainable agricultural development in line with the policy of achieving a balanced development of the rural and urban areas. To this end, we will press ahead with the restructuring of agriculture and the rural economy, protect and improve China’s comprehensive food producing capacity, push forward the industrialization of agriculture, intensify our support for agricultural development, step up agro-science research and extension, strengthen agricultural infrastructure, and promote the increase of farmers’ income, so as to open a new vista for agricultural and rural development.
Asia-Pacific countries differ in agricultural resources and level of agro-science, and in most developing countries in the region, the agricultural infrastructure is backward, agricultural productivity remains low, and poverty and hunger linger. To reverse such a situation, we should further promote the all-round development of agriculture and the rural economy, and make unremitting efforts to boost the rural economy, enrich the farmers, and eliminate poverty. We should conduct vigorous exchanges and cooperation in the field of agriculture in a spirit of seeking common ground while shelving differences, giving mutual respect, learning from each other, and mutual benefit. We should also further open up our markets, reduce tariffs, and eliminate trade barriers to increase common interests.
As a country in the Asia-Pacific region, China will continue to implement the principle of making friends and partners with its neighbours, adhere to the policy of building an amicable, tranquil and prosperous neighbourhood, and make greater contribution to regional peace and development. We will open China’s agriculture wider to the outside world, honour in good faith our WTO commitments, and take an active part in and push forward the new round of multilateral trade negotiations in agriculture. We will conduct active agricultural cooperation with all countries, redoubling our efforts to explore and develop new areas, ways and modalities of agricultural cooperation with countries in the region in particular, with a view to achieving mutually beneficial and win-win results and bringing benefits to all the people in the region.
Over the past half century and more, FAO has played an important role in promoting food production, agriculture and rural development of the UN members, and has made important contributions to helping the developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region to improve their food security, promote agricultural development and carry out anti-poverty strategies. I am convinced that FAO will, as always, play an active role in these areas. For years, FAO has provided active assistance to China’s agricultural and rural economic development, for which I wish to express appreciation and thanks. The Chinese Government will further strengthen its cooperation with FAO in an all-round way.
It is of great significance for this conference to discuss and exchange views on such topics as rice in sustainable agricultural and rural development in Asia and the Pacific, the state of the world’s animal genetic resources, the current state of food and agriculture in the region, follow-up to the World Food Summit, impact of climate change on agriculture in the region, and update of national agricultural, rural development and food security strategies and policies in the region. We believe, with the concerted efforts of all participants, this conference will yield positive results, and lend a strong impetus to agricultural exchanges and cooperation in the region.
Let us work hand in hand to raise the level of agricultural development and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and contribute to the realization of the goals set by the World Food Summit and the UN Millennium Development Goals.
I wish the conference a complete success.
Thank you all.