Poverty relief: Achievements in five years

By Lu Rucai
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Today, July 17, 2017
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Women of the Jinuo ethnic group dry tea leaves in the sun in a village of Jinghong City, Yunnan Province on September 18, 2015. Planting tea and rubber trees has helped to improve local people's living standards. [Photo/China Today]

In 2015 the CPC and the Chinese government put forward the goal of lifting everyone in the countryside above the country's poverty line by 2020.

Since 2013, about 55.64 million people have shaken off poverty, equivalent to more than 80 percent of the total population of France. It will not only benefit the Chinese people, but also represent China's contribution to the evolution of human society if the largest developing country wins the battle against poverty and completes the building of a moderately prosperous society.

Targeted poverty alleviation works

On December 29, 2012, President Xi Jinping, who had been in office for 40-odd days, made an inspection tour of Fuping, an impoverished county in Hebei Province. Fu-ping was the capital of the Shanxi-Charhar-Hebei Border Area, the first revolutionary base from which CPC leaders directed battles during the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945). Xi chose it as his destination with the aim of understanding the real situation of the people living in the poorest areas in China and probing the weaknesses of current social and economic development, so as to discuss how to build a moderately prosperous society. Xi went to Luotuowan Village and Gujiatai Village, where the annual per capita net income was less than RMB 1,000. "I selected two typical examples to understand the entire situation of the vast poverty-stricken areas in China," said Xi.

Over the past five years, Xi has made more than 30 inspection tours across the country and has stressed poverty alleviation almost everywhere he has gone. He has personally visited 14 contiguous poverty-stricken areas and encouraged the CPC cadres to regularly visit impoverished areas and chat with local people.

In November 2013, Xi first put forward the concept of targeted poverty alleviation during his visit to Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Hunan Province. "Targeted measures should be made based on practical situations, and empty slogans should be avoided," he said. In June 2015, he pointed out at a symposium with local Party leaders of Guizhou Province that the success of poverty alleviation relies on whether targeted assistance can be provided.

In November 2015, the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council released a statement entitled "Decision to Win the Battle Against Poverty," which explicitly put forward precise policies on poverty relief. It stipulated that the real conditions of impoverished people must be inspected, and targeted measures carried out to address their practical needs. Furthermore that funds must be used effectively, cadres assigned according to their professions and the work requirements, and their productivity and efficiency evaluated. Efforts should be made to reduce poverty through industrial development, labor transfers, resettlements and ecological protection projects. Moreover, a system should be established to provide service and care to left-behind children, women and senior people, as well as the disabled.

In order to promote these provisions on poverty relief, from April to October of 2014, the government departments working on poverty alleviation organized about 800,000 cadres to launch on-site inspections to identify 128,000 impoverished villages and 89.62 million poor people. They created profiles for the impoverished population and figured out the key factors that cause poverty in those households. Based on this analysis, they implemented targeted measures by improving education, healthcare, financial services, science and technology, as well as inviting private enterprises to support poverty eradication.

Those efforts have paid off. The past four years have seen the lifting out of poverty of over 10 million rural people every year. Take Hebei Province as an example. In the first half of 2016, the per capita disposable income of rural residents in impoverished counties reached RMB 4,811, a year-on-year increase of 13.3 percent.

Enhance self-development capacity

At the end of 2012, when Xi was on an inspection tour in Fuping County, he pointed out that the government should pay more attention to the contiguous poverty-stricken areas by helping impoverished people and the region to seek development by themselves.

China has always encouraged government departments, enterprises and individuals to jointly help reduce poverty.

The government has provided sufficient financial support for fighting poverty. Over the past four years, RMB 196.1 billion of the central budget has been allocated to poverty reduction, representing annualized growth of 19.22 percent. The government has also encouraged various parts of society to provide financial aid. The financial institutions have issued a total of RMB 283.3 billion in small loans to help nearly eight million families get rid of poverty.

In 2014 China set October 17 as the Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and since then has carried out relevant activities to mobilize private enterprises, social organizations and individuals to participate in poverty alleviation. The program for the eastern region to offer assistance to poverty relief in the western region, initiated in 1996, has been upgraded. Nine developed provinces and cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Zhejiang have provided assistance to their paired 12 provinces in the western region. Moreover, a total of 320 units of the central government and the CPC have taken responsibility for helping to lift their targeted 592 counties out of poverty. The People's Liberation Army and the Chinese People's Armed Police Force have helped more than 2,000 impoverished villages. Around 26,500 private businesses have helped nearly four million impoverished people in 24,600 villages with which they are paired.

The goal of all these measures is to enable impoverished areas to build self-development capacity. The government creates employment to help those who can work to get out of poverty. In 2016, 30 counties in six provinces, such as Hebei, Anhui and Shanxi, were selected as experimental zones for poverty alleviation through photovoltaic (PV) projects. According to the plan, the PV projects will be carried out in 35,000 impoverished villages in 16 provinces, covering two million impoverished households.

The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development and National Tourism Administration helped 22,600 villages increase income through developing rural tourism. There are 428 poverty-stricken counties enrolled in a rural e-commerce pilot program. In Luotuowan Village in Fuping County where Xi visited, cadres helped local villagers open online stores, through which local agricultural products such as honey, eggs and walnuts could be sold nationwide, thereby generating revenue.

At the central work conference on development-oriented poverty reduction in 2015, the heads of Party committees and governments of 22 provinces and autonomous regions in central and western China signed with the central authorities letters of commitment on poverty elimination, and likewise similar documents were signed by leaders at lower levels.

Share the Chinese experience

Over the past few years, China has received support from the international society in poverty reduction. Many international organizations such as the World Bank, the UN Development Program, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Asia Development Bank have provided help in terms of funds, ideas and technology. The World Bank started to approve loans to China to support poverty reduction in 1996. Its loans have benefited almost every province in western China. From the end of 2016, the World Bank started to offer loans to targeted provinces, such as Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Shaanxi Province, to support cooperation between farmers' cooperatives and agricultural enterprises and to develop the agricultural value chain.

Currently there are still more than 700 million people living in extreme poverty globally. In China, over 40 million people need to escape poverty by 2020. The Chinese government lays great store on exchanges and cooperation with international institutions and other developing countries in poverty reduction. It also promotes the international cause of poverty alleviation by providing aid to other developing countries with no political strings attached, so as to help developing countries, especially the least developed countries, to eradicate poverty.

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