The Right to Food is the theme of the World Food Day this year which fell yesterday. Behind this theme is the increasing recognition by the international community of the urgency to eradicate hunger and poverty.
This coincides with what we have reiterated time and again - the basic right to subsistence - to have enough to eat and wear. Among all aspects of human rights, the right to food is the first priority, the prerequisite for the realization of other rights.
Advanced as we humans are in science and technology, the right to food remains to be realized for 854 million human beings, according to the United Nations. As far as China, the most populous nation, is concerned, about 26 million are still in poverty in rural areas and another 22 million in urban areas are dependent on the basic living allowance from the government.
This figure was 250 million in 1977, when the country initiated its opening up and economic reforms. The contributions China has made to the realization of the right to food for human beings are noteworthy.
However, in spite of the achievements we have made in poverty alleviation, we have no reason to slacken our efforts in further improving the living standards of both those who are still to have enough to eat and wear and those have already shaken off abject poverty.
In a broad sense, the right to food does not necessarily mean to provide enough access to food. Accessibility to education, adequate healthcare and a decent living environment are what this right entails and also what sustainable economic development and social progress should achieve for the people.
The Chinese authorities have recognized what the realization of such rights for its people means. This can be found in such concrete actions the central government has undertaken - establishing healthcare insurance for rural and urban residents, and providing living allowances or subsidies for lower-income residents nationwide.
The people-first governance concept advocated by the government is a priority on its work agenda to ensure the right to food in its broadest sense for more and more people.
(China Daily 10/17/2007 page9)