Evangelical Christians in Hong Kong challenge the international leaders to fulfill their goal to eradicate world poverty, as the high-profile World Trade Organization (WTO) Sixth Ministerial Conference kicks off today.
Micah Challenge- a global evangelical Christian anti-poverty campaign- has been endorsed by the Hong Kong-based Christian aid agency Cedar Fund. Sharing the same vision of "make poverty history" with some other millions of evangelicals worldwide, Cedar Fund has mobilized all churches, Christian NGOs and individual Christians in Hong Kong to sign a joint declaration, which calls on key international leaders to fulfill their promise of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to halve poverty by 2015.
Published on Cedar Fund’s website, the declaration read, "This is a moment in history of unique potential, when the stated intentions of world leaders echo something of the mind of the Biblical prophets and the teachings of Jesus concerning the poor, when we have the means to dramatically reduce poverty."
In the declaration, Hong Kong Christians pledge their commitment "to pursue justice, to be passionate about kindness and walk humbly with God" as the followers of Christ.
The statement also calls on the people of Hong Kong, particularly those in leadership positions in the government and businesses, as well as Christians all over the world to work together.
"We call on Christians everywhere to live out their faith in action to empower the poor and support the weak, working hand in hand with governments, businesses and the NGO sector to ensure the full accountability of decision-makers here in this city and all over the world," the statement says.
In conclusion, the statement expresses the affirmation of Christians that "the birth of a peaceful world begins with governments ensuring fairness in trade, and the people engaging in acts of mercy."
A Chinese version of the joint appeal has already been published on two leading Hong Kong newspapers - Ming Pao and Wen Wei Pao- on Dec. 9. The English version is to be sent to the ministers attending the WTO Sixth Ministerial Conference through their embassies.
Christians for Hong Kong Society, Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement, Jireh Fund, Breakthrough, Fellowship of Evangelical Students Hong Kong, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong, some local Baptist Churches and Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches are among those who have signed the declaration.
Chiu Sin Wing, the vice chairman of external affairs at Christians for Hong Kong Society said that if the leading nations don't enforce significant cuts of their agricultural subsidies, and continue to urge developing countries to open their markets, "the burden of farmers in those countries would no doubt increase," according to Cedar Fund.
He gave this example, "After being forced to lower tariffs on rice, huge amounts of the crops are imported at low prices, which in turn forces the local farmers to sell theirs at a meager price, greatly affecting their livelihood."
In the run up to the WTO Sixth Ministerial Conference, Christians and human rights groups worldwide have been lobbying the rich nations to adopt fair trade policies as a strategy to relieve poverty in the Third World.
However, the United States and the European Union have both showed reluctance for a change in policies that are favorable to their trade. The issue has been considered as a major roadblock to achieve one of the MDGs agreed by the United Nations to halve world poverty by 2015 and has worried many Christians.
While Hong Kong is hosting the landmark leaders’ conference of WTO this time, Micah Challenge Hong Kong "strongly believes it is time for Christians to stand up, act justly, show compassion and at the same time remind world leaders not to forget their pledge to eradicate poverty."
The WTO's main function is to enforce international trade agreements and declarations made by its member countries, numbered at 149. The Sixth Ministerial Conference now underway in Hong Kong will be closed on Sunday, Dec. 18.