Opening Speech at the Africa China Poverty Reduction and Development Seminar “China’s SEZs and Poverty Reduction”

09 Jan 2012

Shenzhen, 9 January 2012

By Mr. Christophe Bahuet, Country Director, UNDP China,


Your Excellency Mr. Zheng Wenkai,
Your Excellency Mr. Hailemeskel Tefera
Senior Official, Shenzhen City Government (TBD)
Shenzhen University representative (TBD)
Distinguished delegates,
Dear colleagues,

It is a great pleasure for me on behalf of UNDP to join you today at this important seminar, which brings together China and Africa and aims at sharing the lessons and experiences in developing Special Economic Zones and the impact they can have on development, and particularly on poverty reduction. I would like to extend a warm welcome to our African friends. I wish to thank the International Poverty Reduction Center of China (IPRCC), a long-standing partner of UNDP in South-South cooperation, for co-hosting this seminar and for its central role in designing it. I also want to express my appreciation to the Municipal Government of Shenzhen and Shenzhen University for their hospitality and the excellent organization of this event. It is most meaningful and appropriate that this seminar takes place in Shenzhen, a SEZ which is certainly one of the most powerful examples of China’s transformation.

UNDP is very strongly committed to an effective South-South cooperation and in that context we believe that exchange of experience between China and Africa is highly relevant and mutually beneficial.  As one of the founding members of IPRCC, UNDP is honoured to co-host such a seminar and greatly appreciates the presence in Shenzhen today of officials, experts and professionals from Africa and China. I am confident that this seminar will provide you with an opportunity to share views and insights, and will generate new and concrete ideas to address development challenges at home.

We all know that China has achieved remarkable progress in development and poverty reduction since its initiated in-depth reform in 1979. Its rapid economic growth in the last three decades is the largest sustained GDP growth in human history. Most importantly, this growth has translated into improved human development and it has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, allowing China to reach well in advance the first Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty.

It is recognized that the Special Economic Zones have been a key factor in China’s successful reform and development process. They have been the experimental field for the new economic system put in place and have succeeded in playing a catalytic role, the results of which can be seen in today’s China. Shenzhen as the earliest “window” of China’s reform and opening up transformed itself from a fishing village into a metropolis. My last visit to Shenzhen was in 1988, and there is little I can recognize in the city today. You have probably sensed the atmosphere of its fast development in the city tour you made yesterday.

China’s Special Economic Zones are not only part of the country’s historical transformation. They also offer many valuable experiences and lessons for other developing countries in terms of overall macro-policy, sectoral strategies, specific mechanisms for industrial development and employment creation, as well as responses to the challenges that have emerged. We also realize that China’s SEZs have not been a standalone panacea, and that they cannot by themselves fast-track the development process without an enabling environment and appropriate national policies being in place. Clearly there has been a sequence in China’s development and it is hoped that both the exchange during the seminar with Chinese experts and the field visits will  allow participants to know more of more about the economic and social, the rural and urban reforms, which China undertook and which laid a foundation to make the SEZs in China successful.

For all these reasons, I am delighted that IPRCC and UNDP have included the topic of SEZs in their close and fruitful cooperation. I see this in the context of the agreement that UNDP and the Government of China signed in September 2010 to further strengthen our long-standing partnership in South-South cooperation. As an early outcome under this partnership, the China-Africa Poverty Reduction and Development Conference was held in November 2010 hosted by IPRCC, UNDP and the Government of Ethiopia. This Africa-China Poverty Reduction and Development Seminar is another milestone and the first occasion at which IPRCC and UNDP are working together to invite African participants through the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa in New York and the network of UNDP Country Offices in Africa. In this sense, this seminar is a pilot project.

We hope that this seminar, which we jointly designed with inputs from our African counterparts, will meet the expectations we all have and we will be very keen to hear your feedback, including on ideas on improvements that can be made in the future. We also hope that this seminar, focusing on concrete and direct exchange of experiences and practices between China and African countries, will lead to follow-up actions and additional valuable exchanges in the future, which UNDP in China and in Africa stands ready to facilitate.

With your presence and insights, UNDP feels fully confident that this seminar will lead to a useful exchange on good practices, opportunities and challenges for Special Economic Zones in developing countries.

I wish you a very successful seminar, and would like to extend to all participants my best wishes for a Happy New Year 2012, and for the approaching Spring festival and Chinese Year of the Dragon!

Thank you.

na’s� i��(r�ple. Let us therefore celebrate our successes, but let us make sure that we also use them as motivators in our pursuit of the future we all want to see.

Thank You!

r:#3333�Is-�#�(r�ing:0pt;mso-ansi-language: EN-US'>As stated in the Working Report delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao to the recently concluded National People Congress, China is now entering the “deeper waters” of reforms. Reforms around urbanisation will be crucial for China’s long-term prosperity and stability, and UNDP is privileged to have developed cooperation with the China Centre for Urban Development to contribute to China’s urbanisation strategies. I am also particularly encouraged by the presence of so many decision makers and practitioners at all levels here, as well as the numerous top Chinese and international scholars providing valuable insights into the challenges of China’s urbanisation process, identifying the best strategies to combine harmonious and successful urbanisation and human development for all.

Thank you for your attention, and my best wishes for the success of the forum.