From the podium

From the podium

His Excellency Jiabao Wen (Vice-Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China)

Five years after the 1996 World Food Summit, leaders and representatives of various countries gather in Rome today to review the implementation of the Plan of Action of the 1996 Summit and discuss the important issue of global food security in the new century. This is of great and far-reaching significance. On behalf of the Chinese Government, I wish to extend my warm congratulations on the convocation of the Summit and express our appreciation for the highly effective work done by the Food and Agriculture Organizaiton of the United Nations and our heartfelt gratitude to the Italian Government for its efforts in hosting the Summit. Food affords the very basis for human survival and development. And food security bears on national stability and world peace. Since the World Food Summit in 1996, governments of various countries of the international community have made tremendous efforts in fighting hunger and undernourishment in accordance with the Plan of Action of the 1996 Summit, and have achieved some results. But at the same time we should not fail to see that progress made in implementing the Plan of Action is still very much limited. Some deep-seated problems that have long been plaguing world food security are still unbridled, hunger and poverty remain endemic in many developing countries, and the population of undernourishment in the whole world is as large as 790 million. It requires continued efforts of all governments to meet the set objective of the 1996 Summit.

China is the most populous country and biggest food consumer in the world. The Chinese Government has all along set as a top priority to strengthen agriculture and secure adequate food supply for the people. Thanks to the hard efforts made over half a century, particularly in the past twenty years or more since the reform and opening up, China has substantially enhanced its capacity of food production and accomplished the historic transformation in food and other agricultural produce supply, from chronic shortage to a general balance and with surplus in years of good harvest. Thus China has, on its own strength, created a miracle of providing its 1.3 billion people with adequate food and clothing. Over the past 20 years, we have resolved the problem of food for more than 200 million rural people living in poverty. With less than 10 percent of world's arable land, China has fed 22 percent of the world's population, safeguarding the most basic human right of the entire Chinese people. The right to subsistence. This represents an enormous contribution to world peace and development.

Food security is a global issue. It is the responsibility of all countries in the world and the international community to strive to eliminate hunger and poverty, and ensure to each and every one of us living on this planet the basic right of having access to adequate food and being free from hunger. I wish to hereby spell out the principled position and propositions of the Chinese Government on how to resolve the issue of food security.

Firstly, safeguarding world peace and stability is the basic perquisite for eliminating hunger and securing food security. Regrettably, however, we cannot but see that the current world is far from being tranquil. Local wars, internal strife, regional conflicts and all forms of terrorist activities break out from time to time. This has not only devastated the productive forces, but has also displaced millions of people reducing them to the threat of hunger and death. We call on all countries to observe the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations to jointly facilitate the establishment of a just and rational new international political and economic order, and to safeguard world peace and regional stability, so as to create a favourable environment for achieving world food security and progress of human societies.

Secondly, it is basic duty of all governments to resolve the issue of food security. Only by resolving first and foremost the basic issue of people's survival, will it be possible for a country to maintain social stability and secure a foundation for the development of all other undertakings. As for now, many developing countries are subject to the double constraints of domestic food underproduction and lack of food import capacity. At the end of the day, to resolve the problem of food supply depends on economic development. Governments should first rely on their domestic strength, formulate development strategies conducive to food and agricultural production, and work hard to enhance the capacity of food production. At the same time, they should bring into full play their resource advantages, actively develop their unique industries, improve their international competitiveness, and enhance their level of economic development and capacity of international payment.

Thirdly, for the development of food production, we must attach importance to the rational utilization of resources and the protection of environment. At present, desertification is expanding in some regions, resulting in shrinking arable land, shortage of water, deteriorating ecological environment, and frequent occurrence of natural disasters, devastating the vital basis for the development of food and agriculture production, and severely threatening human survival and development. The development of food production needs to follow the law of nature, not at the expense of the environment. We should attach importance to the rational development and utilization of such natural resources as land and fresh water in protection of the ecological environment, research on and disseminate production technology conducive to environmental and resource protection and realize sustainable development of food and agriculture. Excessively fast growth of population should be checked to maintain harmony between mankind and nature.

Fourthly, to ensure global food security requires strengthened international cooperation. Constrained by historical reasons known to all and other objective conditions, many developing countries suffer from sluggish economic development and long-term poverty, which is one of the key causes for hunger and malnutrition. The international community, especially developed countries, should pay more attention to the difficulties of these countries, provide them with more official development assistance, further reduce their burden of debts, speed up technology transfer and open market to development countries. While promoting trade liberalization of agricultural products, the realities and reasonable demands of developing countries should be taken into full consideration and their interests must be accommodated. Only when developing countries, especially the poorest countries, enjoy economic development, can the objective of eliminating hunger and malnutrition in the world by truly realized.

Over a long period of time, China has actively participated in the international exchanges and cooperation in the field of food and agriculture. As China's economy is growing and its national strength improving, China will continue to make its due contribution to food security of the world, especially that of the developing countries. I am convinced that, as long as the international community and all countries work together and strengthen their cooperation, the objectives set by World Food Summit will be realized. The Chinese Government and people stand ready to work with governments and peoples in the world to make unremitting efforts for the realization of these objectives.

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