The 15th ASEAN-China Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction Successfully Held in Beijing

On 22 June 2021, the 15th ASEAN-China Social Development and Poverty Reduction Forum, hosted by the National Rural Revitalization Administration of China, organized by the International Poverty Reduction Center in China and supported by the ASEAN Secretariat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was successfully held online and offline. Present at the meeting were officials at ministerial and departmental levels in charge of poverty reduction from China and ASEAN member states, including Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, as well as representatives from international organizations, international non-governmental organizations and the media, altogether more than 80 attendees.

Under the theme of “ASEAN-China Cooperation: Promoting Rural Development and Sustainable Poverty Reduction”, this Forum aims at facilitating the exchanges in the field of social development and poverty reduction between China and ASEAN countries as well as international organizations, enterprises and think-tanks with a particular focus on the communication on the policies and practices related to poverty reduction underpinned by rural development. It comes as part of an effort to contribute wisdom and share the proposals of different countries in order to eradicate extreme poverty in ASEAN and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

WANG Zhengpu, Administrator of National Rural Revitalization Administration, Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN, DENG Xijun, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of P. R. China to ASEAN, Noel Felongco, Secretary/Lead Convenor of National Anti-poverty Commission of the Philippines, and Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China addressed the opening ceremony.

WANG Zhengpu, Administrator of National Rural Revitalization Administration looked back upon the significant role played by the Forum during the past 15 years: With constantly expanding coverage and influence, the Forum has become a key regional platform for dialogues; as its themes have aligned with the hot issues of the world, the Forum has evolved into a valuable think tank for resolving trending problems; turning its policy suggestions into follow-up actions, the Forum has also become a drive for enhancing personal and cultural communications. WANG Zhengpu mentioned that, after the eradication of extreme poverty, China’s attention has shifted from poverty alleviation to comprehensive advancement of rural revitalization. To this end, China has set up national monitoring and supporting system to prevent people from falling back into poverty. Groups who are liable to return to or fall into poverty will be subject to the principle of early detection, intervention and assistance, that forestalls any large-scale reemergence of poverty. For people shaking off poverty through relocation, stability, adequate employment and access to wealth are ensured by increased support for industry employment, better supporting infrastructure and public services and innovation in community governance and social integration. Looking into the future, China is firmly committed to promoting global poverty reduction and sustainable rural development. China is ready to work with ASEAN and all partners to continue giving full play to the role of the ASEAN-China Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction and continue to make efforts as we jointly build a better and more prosperous future.

Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary General of ASEAN pointed out that the year 2021 is critical as we endeavor to recover from the pandemic. Far more than just a health crisis, the ongoing pandemic has jeopardized our gains and successes in economic, social and human development. In order to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world, we must be cognizant of other key variables that underpin the evolving characteristics of poverty in the region, particularly rapid urbanization, demographic shift, climate change and disasters, as well as the changing nature of work amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This requires us to adopt a more inter-sectional and holistic approach to not only eradicate poverty but also to reduce inequalities. Fortifying our synergy and forming ahead with optimism are the only ways for ASEAN and China to build back better and stronger from the pandemic. To realize such a goal, sustaining partnership at all levels is indispensable.

Ambassador DENG Xijun pointed out that this year marks the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations. Over the past 30 years, China and ASEAN have worked side by side to overcome difficulties and bring about enormous progress in our relations. He proposed several key areas where future ASEAN-China cooperation in poverty reduction might focus. The first is anti-pandemic cooperation. Bridging the “vaccine divide” and defeating the pandemic at an early date are key to preventing people from succumbing to or returning to poverty due to COVID-19. China will continue to play its role as a major responsible country by providing ASEAN with vaccines to the best of its capability and assisting the set-up of a regional vaccine production center in Indonesia. The second is post-pandemic recovery. Development holds the key to poverty reduction, and cooperation is a powerful engine for development. We should better synergize the BRI and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, among other development plans. The third is the creation of new cooperation models. A natural shift from poverty alleviation to rural revitalization is an important takeaway from China’s experience. It is hoped that China and ASEAN will have more dialogue in experience and policy, tap the potential of cooperation and create new sectors of cooperation in poverty reduction. China is also ready to fund projects in this regard through the ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund and other mechanisms.

The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has a bearing on national development as well as people’s livelihood and well-being. It is the common responsibility of China and all ASEAN countries. China and ASEAN face major cooperation opportunities and huge prospects in realizing SDGs. LI Xiaoyun, Chair Professor at China Agricultural University, Kham Ouane KHAMPHOUKEO, Acting Director General of the Department of Rural Development and Cooperatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Lao P.D.R., Mizuho Okimoto-Kaewtathip, Regional Team Leader of Inclusive Growth & Prosperity at UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, Mr. Zarni Minn, Director of the Department of Rural Development of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation of Myanmar, Carlos Watson, Representative in China for Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, ZHU Youkui, Deputy Director General of Rural Revitalization Administration of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Smita Luthra Nakhooda, Senior Results Management Specialist at Asian Development Bank Wasana Techavijitsarn, Director of ASEAN Unit of the Ministry of Interior of Thailand, LI Shi, Senior Professor of Zhejiang University, LI Sa, ASEAN-China Center Officer, among others, spoke and discussed over the “Process of Realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals by China and ASEAN Countries”.

Centering around the theme of “Policy and Practice on Eradicating Extreme Poverty”, Pallop Tanjariyaporn, Director of International Relations Unit of the Ministry of Interior of Thailand, LV Fang, Associate Professor of Department of Social Science of Central China Normal University, Matteo Marchisio, Country Representative to China for International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), SHENG Zongyi, Deputy Director General of Rural Revitalization Administration of Qinghai Province , SONG Yunchang, Director of the Office of the Leading Group for Rural Revitalization of Sinopec Group Corporation, PEN Bin, China Representative of Mercy Corps, TAN Yongsheng, Researcher at the Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research, Sabina Alkire, Director of Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, among others, spoke and shared the policies and practices of China, governments of ASEAN countries and international organizations on eradicating extreme poverty, as well as discussing strategies and cooperation in poverty reduction under the new circumstances in an effort to jointly promote the sustainable development goal of eradicating extreme poverty across the globe.

WAN Guanghua, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Institute of World Economy of Fudan University, QU Sixi, Country Director in China of World Food Programme, GUO Kuili, Deputy Director General of Rural Vitalization Administration of Henan Province, Thomas Panella, Director from East Asia Department of Asian Development Bank, LIU Wei, Senior Adviser of Public Affairs Department of Alibaba Group, Siti Zaharah Omar, Deputy Undersecretary of Strategic Planning Division of the Ministry of Rural Development of Malaysia , ZHU Qinghua, Deputy Director for Development of Beijing Representative Office of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WEI Longbao, Qiushi Chair Professor of Zhejiang University, SONG Jinpin, Representative of Heifer Hong Kong, among other representatives of various circles, attended the meeting and spoke over the theme of “policy and practice of rural development”, discussing and exchanging ideas on the positive policies and practices by China and ASEAN in industrial prosperity, ecology and inhabitability, rural civilization, effective governance, prosperity of life and other dimensions in order to facilitate coordination in urban-rural development in different countries and jointly promote the achievement of the 2030 SDGs.

The opening ceremony of the Forum was chaired by XU Jianmin, Director General of the Department of General Affairs of National Rural Revitalization Administration of China. ZHANG Weidong, UNDP Assistant Country Director (a.i.) and ZHANG Qi , Dean of Institute for Poverty Reduction of Beijing Normal University chaired the speech sessions. The closing ceremony was chaired by LI Xin, Deputy Director General of International Poverty Reduction Center in China. Chivoan SAO, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Rural Development of Cambodia and TAN Weiping, Acting Director General of International Poverty Reduction Center in China delivered closing speeches.