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UNIDO leader sets new goals

Updated: 2013-11-19 09:22
By Zhang Fan and Li Xiaokun ( China Daily)

Li expects his compatriots will take more roles in international organizations

Li Yong, the first person from the Chinese mainland to be elected as the executive of a major international organization, believes more Chinese will follow in his footsteps.

"China's economy is developing and getting more involved in the international economy," Li, director-general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

UNIDO leader sets new goals 

"My working experience in both the Chinese government and international organizations makes me fully confident to lead UNIDO. It's a big opportunity as well as a challenge for me." Li Yong Director-General of The United Nations Industrial Development Organization 

"As a result, China will inevitably need to be given more rights in international activities, such as the right to participate and the right to have a voice in international affairs," he said as he finished a five-day China visit.

China is the third stop on his Asian tour, which also includes South Korea, Japan and India. Li had a tight schedule while in his homeland, which included attending the Green Industry Conference in Guangzhou, capital of southern China's Guangdong province.

Li, 62, made headlines in Chinese and foreign media in June when he competed with candidates from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Thailand, Italy and Poland in the election for the new director-general of UNIDO.

The former Chinese vice-minister of finance finally emerged as the clear winner, receiving 37 of 53 votes from member states.

"While individuals from China have held other senior positions in major international agencies before, Li's personal and professional background sets him apart from the others," all of whom have had significant ties outside the Chinese mainland, Dan Runde, director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a commentary.

Li's election is a sign of "China's ambition to broaden its involvement in global development through established international platforms", Runde added.

"My working experience in both the Chinese government and international organizations makes me fully confident to lead UNIDO. It's a big opportunity as well as a challenge for me," Li said.

Originally established in 1966, the agency, with 172 member states, aims to promote industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.

Li, for his part, is widely considered to be an experienced economic and financial policy-maker in pushing forward China's cooperation with multilateral development organizations.

His election had the strong support of the Chinese government, he added.

President Xi Jinping assured Li during their meeting on Nov 10 that China will support the development of UNIDO "with full effort".

Xi also suggested that China and UNIDO work together to support other countries through trilateral cooperation, especially in Africa, said Li.

Li, who has been in his current position for four months, has established a new goal for the organization: to realize inclusive and sustainable development of global industry. The target has been set in accordance with the UN Millennium Development Goals.

"I think industrial development is faced with a new historical opportunity," he said.

"African countries have learned that industrialization is a key strategy for their self-development, while in the wake of the global financial crisis, developed countries also found that governments and private sectors have to work closely for healthy industrialization."

Li expects that one day "everyone can share the fruits of industrialization" and that modern industrial development can take economies, societies and environments into consideration.

As for China, the former Chinese government official looks forward to contributing to industrialization in his native land with his rich experience and international perspective.

On the eve of his departure for the last leg of his Asian tour, Li was invited by the Chinese government to become a member of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, a high-level think tank composed of Chinese and foreign experts and officials.

"Of course, I'll accept the invitation. I want to bring knowledge, experience and suggestions here from UNIDO," he said.

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