Opening remarks at Equity in China: chapeau paper launch

12 Dec 2013

Launch Event - Equity in China: Chapeau Paper

2:30-5:00 PM on 12 December, 2013

UN Large Conference Room

Opening remarks by Ms. Renata Dessallien,

UN Resident Coordinator in China

Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, distinguished partners, and UN country team members:

I would like to thank you all for attending the launch of the Equity in China chapeau paper.  

The inspiration for this publication stems from our desire as the UN System in China to compliment the Chinese government's efforts to address emerging and urgent challenges of growing disparities and inequalities.

While China has rapidly transformed into a dynamic middle income country, major gaps exist between urban and rural areas, between the wealthier cities on the East coast and the poorer Western and Central provinces, between men and women, between the Han majority and the ethnic minorities to name a few.

The Equity in China paper began with a seminar in July 2012, organized by the UN System in China, entitled “Rethinking the Equity Efficiency Relation: Challenges Ahead”.  Some of you here today were with us then as we discussed how China can better address issues of equity. We covered topics such as: social insurance, public finance, governance, rural development, wage equity, education, health, environment and gender issues.

Chinese experts and scholars were represented by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, State Council Development Research Center, National School of Public Administration of Renmin University, Beijing Normal University, Women’s Studies Institute, China University of Political Science and Law, China Development Research Foundation, among others.

The valuable inputs from all partners at the seminar fed into the paper we're launching today. It is the first of a series of UN publications designed to explore issues of equity and policies towards narrowing the gaps between the haves and have-nots.

Several international and national scholars contributed to the paper:

Dr. Jan Vandemoortele – internationally renowned development expert, with 30 years of service to the UN and co-architect of the Millennium Development Goals – played a lead role by producing the central think piece of this paper, explaining the equity-efficiency relation from a global perspective.   

Three renowned Chinese experts anchored the paper solidly within the Chinese context.  Professor Liu Minquan, Professor of Economics and the Founding Director of the Center for Human and Economic Development Studies (CHEDS) at Peking University, contributed a chapter on growth and equity – past, present and challenges.  Professor Liu is actively engaged at global forums on discussion on poverty eradication and development issues and has led important research on topics ranging from rural finance to the environment. 

Professor Li Shi is Professor of Economics at the School of Economics and Business and Acting Director of the Institute of Income Distribution at Beijing Normal University. He is widely published and has had many collaborations with UN organizations. Prof. Li contributed a chapter on income distribution reform in China. 

And Liu Bohong, professor with the China Women’s University and a senior fellow and former Deputy Director General of the Women’s Studies Institute of China, contributed a chapter on gender equity. Professor Liu has also worked extensively with UN organizations, serving as an adviser on gender issues.

Sir Richard Jolly, another giant in the world of international development, wove the 4 papers together into a substantive foreword.  Having retired from the UN as Assistant Secretary General, Sir Richard continues to research and write and is Honorary Professor at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.      

We will be hearing from all five of our contributing authors today.  Each will touch upon the importance of addressing equity and also share the salient points of their chapters with us. 

Professor Li Shi and Professor Liu Bohong are here with us, and will be speaking shortly.  And thanks to modern technology, you have already heard from Sir Richard and Dr. Vandemoortele and Professor Minquan will speak to us via video message from the UK, Belgium and Japan.

We also have the immense pleasure of hearing the insights of Professor Zeng Yesong, Researcher/Inspector of the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, who is an expert in rural development, and overall reform and development.  We are honored and delighted that you could join us, Professor Zeng, and we thank you for your long-time support to the UN.  Finally, last but not least, we will hear from Gillian Mellsop, our UNICEF Representative, who has been a formidable driving force behind this Equity Series.  Gillian will tell us about some of the UN System’s other equity papers in this series under preparation.

The topic of this publication and the policy discussion we hope it will inspire are hugely important. The economic development seen in China over the last thirty years is unparalleled in human history. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. This rising tide of prosperity has transformed the most populous nation on earth.

A new generation is now growing up with hopes and aspirations that their parents' could never have dreamed of. But the development has been uneven. We must ensure that everyone from the cities to the countryside has an equitable share in China's growing wealth. It will mean a stronger, fairer and, ultimately, more harmonious society.

We hope that this paper and the thematic papers to follow will help inform the policies required to promote greater equity.  There will be no easy choices, but China has an enviable track record of success. Over the last decade, it has shown that with the right policies and strong political commitment, no challenge is too great.  

The pursuit of greater equity is deeply imbedded in the UN System’s development support in China.  We believe it is not only vital for China’s stable domestic development, but also for her rise on the global stage and her growing global stewardship.

Without further ado, I welcome Mr. Zeng Yesong to share with us his thoughts on the Equity in China chapeau paper.