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Countries should choose their own path of sustainable growth, premier says
Premier Wen Jiabao said China will take a more active role in promoting sustainable development. [Photo by Li Xueren / Xinhua]
An action plan that reaffirms "the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities", expected to be adopted by heads of state at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development on Friday, reflects the efforts of developing countries, experts said.
More than 100 heads of state have gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss policies about global sustainable development.
After days of intensive informal negotiations, 191 countries reached an agreement on an action plan, which sets out a framework to establish sustainable development goals to be adopted by all countries.
The 49-page draft reaffirms "the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities", a major concern of the G77 and China, and reflects most of their demands, said Chi Fulin, president of China Institute for Reform and Development.
Developing countries, which are experiencing a key period of transition and development, usually prioritize development but still value sustainability, Chi said.
Premier Wen Jiabao stressed on Thursday that China will take a more active part in pushing forward international cooperation on sustainable development during his speech at the conference, informally known as Rio+20.
"Countries must share the common responsibilities of protecting our planet while recognizing that they are at different stages and levels of development," Wen said.
Wen called for countries to explore models of establishing a green economy. He also said countries should be supported in making their own decisions and processes in a transition to a green economy based on their own basic conditions.
The international community, he said, should allow countries with different histories, cultures, religious beliefs and social systems to choose their own path of sustainable growth.
"The more China develops, the more opportunities it will create and the more it will contribute to the world," he said.
Wen announced that China will contribute $6 million to a UN Environment Programme trust fund for projects and activities that help developing countries protect the environment.
Beijing will also give 200 million yuan ($31 million) for a three-year project to help small island nations, least developed and African countries address climate change.
China also made major commitments during the summit, including helping countries to train managerial and technical professionals in ecological preservation and controlling desertification. It will also provide facilities, such as automatic weather stations.
However, while China is helping to develop a green economy, sustainable development in the country has not reached its full potential. The country may boast a fairly large economy, but its per capita income ranks 90th in the world. The country still has more than 100 million people living below the poverty line, Wen said.
"Pressure from resources and the environment continues to mount and problems of unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development remain challenging," Wen said.
While some leaders believe the action plan was positive, non-governmental organizations think more should have emerged from the meeting. Though UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said negotiations at the summit were successful, he also added that "we have not gone nearly far enough down the road mapped out in 1992. Now we have been given a second chance".
The 1992 Earth Summit is considered as the first step by the UN to put sustainable development as a priority on its agenda.
If the action plan this year is carried out, said Sha Zukang, Rio+20's secretary-general, it will generate positive global change.
However, Chi from China Institute for Reform and Development emphasized that to fully implement the plan, developed countries need to continue offering financial aid, and accelerate transferring technology, to developing countries.
Closer ties with India
Wen on Thursday also held talks with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh.
A strengthened strategic and cooperative partnership between China and India is in the interests of both countries, Wen said.
Singh echoed Wen, saying India and China have been coordinating in global and regional affairs in the recent years.
Ma Jun, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science of the People's Liberation Army, said China and India are major promoters of the action plan.
"Both countries face similar development situations and have been urging common but different responsibility on the environment," he said.
Singh also said during the meeting that India will not tolerate anybody conducting anti-China activities on Indian territory and will not join any action aimed at containing and encircling China.
Experts said India's neutral stance is based on its emphasis of China-India relations and its traditional independent foreign policy.
The United States is trying to lobby India to support its strategic shift to the Asia-Pacific region, which is widely believed to be a bid to contain China.
India has not allied itself with this shift, to protect ties with China and its diplomatic independence, said Ma.
But increasing cooperation between India and the US has created pressure on China, he said.
India, with the ambition of a world power, would not like to be diplomatically chained to Washington, but close ties could actually help India boost its international status, said Wang Weihua, a researcher on South Asia at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.
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Zhao Shengnan in Beijing contributed to this story.