Ex­pe­ri­ence tack­ling poverty of­fers global lessons

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By WANG LINYAN in New York | wan­glinyan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Bill Gates is a house­hold name in China. He’s known as a co-founder of Microsoft, a phi­lan­thropist and a role model com­mit­ted to fight­ing poverty and dis­ease world­wide.

Gates, who is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, has spo­ken highly of China’s con­tin­u­ing ef­forts in poverty re­duc­tion and its achieve­ments. Goal­keep­ers: The Sto­ries Be­hind the Data, the in­au­gu­ral an­nual re­port re­leased by the foun­da­tion in Septem­ber, high­lights a steady de­cline in global poverty since 1990, driven by China and In­dia, from 35 per­cent in 1990 to 9 per­cent in 2016.

The bil­lion­aire said China’s ex­pe­ri­ence of­fers lessons for other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and that it is im­por­tant to the world. “I see China as an in­dis­pens­able part of the so­lu­tion to the world’s most press­ing chal­lenges,” Gates said. “We need Chi­nese in­vest­ment, in­no­va­tion and com­mit­ment to tackle cli­mate change, to wipe out ex­treme poverty, and to win in the fight against the world’s dead­li­est dis­eases.” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion

What do you feel has been China’s big­gest achieve­ment over the past five years? What’s the most no­table change you’ve ob­served?

In the past five years, China has been es­pe­cially am­bi­tious about tak­ing the lessons it has learned about fight­ing poverty and child mor­tal­ity and help­ing other coun­tries ap­ply them in their own con­texts. In 2015, for ex­am­ple, China tripled its com­mit­ment to African de­vel­op­ment, pledg­ing $60 bil­lion. As the world sets out on a jour­ney to achieve the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals by 2030, we’re at a piv­otal mo­ment. China has a cru­cial role to play in con­tin­u­ing the progress of the past gen­er­a­tion, and it is en­cour­ag­ing that it is ea­ger to be a great part­ner.

What three words would you use to de­scribe China to­day?

Com­mit­ted, am­bi­tious and vi­tal. Com­mit­ted, be­cause as much as any other large coun­try over the past few years, China has shown a com­mit­ment to health and de­vel­op­ment both at home and abroad. Am­bi­tious be­cause of the tar­gets China has set for it­self, in­clud­ing wip­ing out ex­treme poverty by 2020. And vi­tal be­cause I be­lieve that we need an en­gaged and re­spon­si­ble China if we are to rid the world of what we call “solv­able hu­man mis­ery”. China is very im­por­tant to the fu­ture of the en­tire world.

What’s the big­gest chal­lenge China faces, and how can the coun­try over­come it?

From our foun­da­tion’s per­spec­tive, in­fec­tious dis­ease is a huge chal­lenge fac­ing China, even though few peo­ple talk about it. For ex­am­ple, there are 1 mil­lion new cases of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in China ev­ery year, ac­cord­ing to World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion es­ti­mates. China also has about one-fifth of the world’s cases of mul­tidrug-re­sis­tant TB, which is es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult and ex­pen­sive to treat. It is great to see that China has been dou­bling down on its ef­forts to fight the dis­ease with a na­tional TB con­trol plan (2016-20), which sets out am­bi­tious tar­gets to re­duce

Jim O’Neill,

the TB bur­den sig­nif­i­cantly.

What is your im­pres­sion Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping?

Melinda and I have had the plea­sure of meet­ing Pres­i­dent Xi and first lady Peng Liyuan on more than one oc­ca­sion. We were happy to wel­come them to Seat­tle in 2015, and Melinda saw Peng on her trip to China this year. It’s great to see how com­mit­ted China’s lead­er­ship is to con­tin­u­ing to make strides against dis­ease and poverty, both in China and over­seas. And I’m ex­cited about part­ner­ships our foun­da­tion has es­tab­lished with the Lead­ing Group Of­fice of Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment and the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion to help im­prove health in ru­ral ar­eas of China.

How do you view China’s role in to­day’s world?

I see China as an in­dis­pens­able part of the so­lu­tion to the world’s most press­ing chal­lenges. We need Chi­nese in­vest­ment, in­no­va­tion and com­mit­ment to tackle cli­mate change, to wipe out ex­treme poverty, and to win in the fight against the world’s dead­li­est dis­eases. China has a unique com­bi­na­tion of tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise and re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence with rapid de­vel­op­ment, and so it is a unique re­source to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries ev­ery­where.

Do you be­lieve that some of China’s ex­pe­ri­ences or prac­tices could be used to solve press­ing global problems? If so, what are they?

Yes, ab­so­lutely. Bri­tish econ­o­mist who coined the acro­nym BRIC There


are lots of ar­eas where we could be do­ing even more to ap­ply China’s ex­pe­ri­ence to global problems. China’s ex­pe­ri­ence of lift­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions out of poverty ob­vi­ously holds many lessons for other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

What’s more, China has shown in­ter­est in lever­ag­ing its in­no­va­tion ca­pac­ity to ad­dress global chal­lenges. For ex­am­ple, China is home to world-class re­search and de­vel­op­ment in drugs, vac­cines and other med­i­cal prod­ucts.

We have launched a Global Health Drug Dis­cov­ery In­sti­tute to­gether with the Bei­jing city govern­ment and Ts­inghua Univer­sity to tap into such po­ten­tial and work on new drugs for in­fec­tious dis­eases that dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fect the poor.


What do you think China will be like in five years’ time? How do you view China’s longer-term fu­ture?

I would hope that in five years we’ll see a more pros­per­ous China that re­mains com­mit­ted to help­ing the world solve its big­gest health and de­vel­op­ment chal­lenges. Longer term, I hope China will be even more en­gaged with the rest of the world. I’m a firm be­liever in glob­al­iza­tion as a force for good, and I like to think our foun­da­tion’s part­ner­ship with China is a good ex­am­ple of what global co­op­er­a­tion can achieve: help­ing China solve its problems at home while be­com­ing the best de­vel­op­ment part­ner it can be for the rest of the world.


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