The final delivery of food aid from the United Nations World Food Program, worth US$7.2 million, arrived at Chiwan Port in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, on Thursday morning.
The shipment of 43,450 tons of wheat will be sent inland to Gansu and Shanxi provinces and the Ningxia Hui and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous regions for poverty alleviation projects.
WFP China Representative Douglas Broderick said that the WFP and China had agreed in February 2001 to phase out food aid because China can now afford to eliminate extreme poverty itself.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in the past 20 years China has cut the number of people living in extreme poverty by more than 200 million.
With its rapid economic development, China has become an active donor in world affairs. In the past four years, it has committed US$5 million for WFP's projects in other countries. Chinese nongovernmental organizations donated 500 million yuan (US$60.4 million) worth of aid to the Asian tsunami victims.
The WFP began providing food aid to China in 1979. The organization provided US$1 billion worth of aid, assisting more than 30 million Chinese in meeting their immediate food needs and helping to build an infrastructure through programs exchanging food for work and training.
"The WFP has contributed greatly to poverty alleviation in some poor areas in China," said Liu Fuhe, spokesman for the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. "These programs have been proved successful and efficient."
China still has 26 million people living below the poverty line and the central government has vowed to eliminate poverty by 2010. The cessation of WFP assistance will not have a negative impact on this plan.
The WFP and China will explore ways of strengthening their decades-old partnership to address the growing problems of chronic malnutrition.
"China will continue to participate in the poverty relief and emergency aid projects launched by the WFP and share with the whole world our expertise in poverty-relief and natural disaster aid," said an official with the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to Broderick, the WFP also plans to increase purchases in China of food and non-food aid materials. In 2004, the organization bought US$30 million worth of aid materials from China.
(Xinhua News Agency April 8, 2005)