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UNICEF: Powerhouse China ranks high for poverty-related diseases

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BEIJING – Amid all the talk of China’s rise and Beijing’s new influence at the top table of international diplomacy, it is sometimes easy to forget that the Asian giant is still, in many respects, a third-world country.

The UN Children’s Fund offered a sharp reminder this week, with a report highlighting the way in which diarrhea worldwide kills 1.5 million children under 5 years old every year. And there, on the list of the top 15 countries that account for nearly three-quarters of the deaths, is China.

It lies just behind Bangladesh and just ahead of Uganda.

This is not the kind of international company that China is accustomed to keeping these days. Its leaders - jetting between UN summits and G20 meetings - far prefer to hear how the US and China are going to shape the future of the planet.

Maybe they will. And to a large extent, China owes its place on UNICEF’s list to the country’s enormous population: There are so many children under 5 here that even a small proportion of them works out to a large absolute number.

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