China by Bicycle :: April -- October '98

Subject: We're doing something right.
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 20:20:51 -0700

20:06 Oasis Hotel Cafe, Tulufan; Xinjiang--China TU 15 SEP 98

China Daily; Thursday, September 10, 1998 (Page 1)

By Chen Yanni
The gap between rich and poor countries continues widening regardless of the burgeoning consumption of goods and services globally. This undermines the possibility of sustainable human development internationally, suggest the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Human Development Report '98. Global consumption of goods and services will reach US$24 trillion this year, six times higher than in 1975, notes the report.

The UN released the document yesterday in The Hague and in more than 100 nation's capitals, including Beijing. The UNDP has commissioned the report -- an exploration of major global issues by experts -- every year since 1990.

One billion people still go without the basic necessities -- food, water and proper housing -- while 86 percent of the world's output is used by 20 per cent of the population, the report adds. This group uses 58 percent of the world's energy, 45 percent of the meat and fish, drive 87 percent of the motor vehicles and use 74 percent of the telephones, reveals the report. Three-fifths of the world's 4.4 billion people in developing countries live in communities without basic sanitation; one-third do not have safe drinking water; one-fourth lack adequate housing; one-fifth are without modern health care; one-fifth of the children do not advance beyond the fifth grade; and one-fifth of the children are malnourished, the report notes.

This year, the report focuses on consumption of goods and services and examines how this advances or hinders human progress.

Canadians ranked first for overall health, general level of education, and the average standard of living. France and Norway placed second and third respectively. This is the fifth consecutive year Canada topped the report's list, a distinction the UNDP says is "unmatched by any other nation."

China ranked 106 out of the 174 nations, up from 108 out of 175 last year. The UNDP implemented its China Human Development Report 1997 two months ago, the agency's first report on China. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, on a 10-day visit to China, praised the nation, during her speech at the ceremony, for its efforts in eradicating poverty. "A half century after te Universal Declaration of Human Rights, China can be commended for efforts to eliminate poverty, and to meet the basic needs of all," Robinson said. "I look forward to strengthening my contacts with the government and people of China, and to working together."

Liu He, chief executive president of the State Information Centre, welcomed the report's publication. "It is unique in that it has grasped the most basic problems affecting human development." Its strategic outlook and practical policies force us to focus on sustainable development, Liu suggested.

I'd be curious to know what else this report had to say about China's human rights and development record...

When a country is in harmony with the Tao,
the factories make trucks and tractors.
When a country goes counter to the Tao,
warheads are stockpiled outside the cities.

There is no greater illusion than fear,
no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself,
no greater misfortune than having an enemy.

Whoever can see through all fear
will always be safe.
  graphical element Attributed to Lao Tse
The Tao Te Ching
Chapter 46
trans. Stephen Mitchell