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China gains ground on UN list of developed nations
Updated: 2005-09-09 15:54

China has risen 20 notches up a 170-nation U.N.-compiled list of the world's most developed countries since 1990 thanks to gains in household income and poverty-reduction efforts, a U.N. spokeswoman said Friday.

China ranked No 85 last year, up from 105 in 1990, in the U.N. Development Program's 2005 Human Development Report, said Zhang Wei, the Beijing spokeswoman for the U.N. Development Program. A UNDP statement calls the rise one of history's fastest human development advances.

China is world's fastest growing economy over the past two decades, with per capita incomes rising threefold´╝îthe UNDP said in its 2005 Human Development Report.

The report recognized China's massive achievements in poverty relief in the past 30 years, saying that if it were not for China, the world would have regressed in poverty alleviation.

"On behalf of the UNDP, I congratulate the Chinese Government and people once again for this truly colossal achievement," said Khalid Malik, UN Resident Co-ordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in China.

The country's new Human Development Index Ranking reflects China's poverty eradication work over the past 30 years, the UNDP said.

Chinese officials say they cut abject poverty from 250 million people in 1978, the first year of economic reforms, to 29 million last year. The UNDP says household income has increased three times since 1990.

The Human Development Report also measures mortality rates, healthcare conditions and people's access to social services.

But much of China's new wealth has not reached residents and people in poorer western China, the UNDP statement said. 

Seventy to 80 percent of rural households lack medical insurance, contributing to "thousands of unnecessary infant deaths" every year, UNDP China resident coordinator Khalid Malik said in the statement.

East-west divisions are marked, the statement suggests.

"For example, if Guizhou (Province) were a country, it would rank just above Namibia, while Shanghai would rank alongside Portugal on the Human Development Index," the UNDP statement says, naming a chronically poor province in southwestern China.

Released every year since 1990, the report provides an update on development problems and solutions around the world.

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