Rich nations urged to fulfil their global aid vows

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 12:00am

Beijing yesterday urged industrialised nations to do more to help developing countries achieve sustainable growth.

Sun Genghong, chief of the Chinese Association for International Understanding, said developed nations should honour their commitment to increase aid to ensure global sustainable development, Xinhua said yesterday.

On Monday, more than 65,000 representatives of 118 nations will converge on Johannesburg, in South Africa, for the United Nations' World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Premier Zhu Ronji will lead the Chinese delegation of more than 200 representatives, including officials from government and non-governmental organisations.

The summit is the follow-up to the Earth Summit held in Brazil in 1992, during which 22 nations of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) agreed to an official development assistance aid target of 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product. But many rich nations have constantly failed to meet this target.

Mr Sun said such lack of commitment by developed nations had resulted in limited progress in the drive to reduce global poverty. More than 1.2 billion people are said to be living below the poverty level across the world.

Mr Sun also claimed that poverty in developing nations was a result of an international trading system that was rigged against developing nations in favour of the developed world.

In a thinly veiled criticism of the United States, Mr Sun said there should be a new international geo-political economic order that fought hegemony and power politics. He also said that nations engaged in the fight against terrorism must depend on developing nations for security, adding that a reasonable political and economic world order could ensure an effective war against terrorism.

International foreign aid assistance has been dropping in recent years. The World Bank recently reported that such aid had fallen to 0.22 per cent of donor countries' GDP - its smallest proportion since 1947. The US, the world's biggest donor, has cut its overseas development assistance since 1990 by 34 per cent. An OECD report said US foreign aid accounted for only 0.1 per cent of its GDP - the lowest level among industrialised nations.

China is one of the world's largest recipients of foreign aid and foreign direct investment, (FDI).

The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation reported that for the year 2000, China received more than US$59.4 billion (HK$462 billion), including foreign loans and FDI.

China says it reduced its poverty-stricken population from 250 million in 1978 to 30 million in 2000.