China sets to win uphill battle against poverty

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 11, 2016
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Few of the over 55 million people living in China's underdeveloped rural areas have any idea of how the ongoing "two sessions" will soon change their lives for the better.

According to the government work report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang last Saturday, the central government will increase its poverty alleviation budget by 43.4 percent this year, lifting at least 10 million people out of poverty by the year end.

Last year, 14.4 million rural residents left poverty behind. Li Jinggao, 63, from eastern Jiangsu Province was one of them.

His wife has suffered from ill-health for years, his son has learning difficulties, and he, himself, was too old to work in a factory. The whole family depended on government aid.

Three years ago, the local government loaned him three ewes. Under his care, they bore seven to eight lambs every year.

The family returned the original ewes in 2015, and they have survived on the offspring ever since.

The story was shared with legislators from across China, sitting together in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, as an example of a successful poverty alleviation initiative.

The central government aims to lift 55 million rural people out of poverty in the coming five years, in order to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society by 2020.

The leadership have promised "not to leave a single family" behind.

In November, 22 heads of provinces, autonomous regions and cities from central and western China signed a "responsibility agreement" with the central government, agreeing to be evaluated.

Legislators attending the two sessions have also voiced their commitment to the campaign.

"The remaining 55 million are the poorest and most difficult group," said Fan Xiaojian, member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Fan is leading a State Council panel on poverty alleviation.

China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty over the past four decades. A total of 95.5 million rural people overcame poverty from 2011 to 2014, according to official data.

However, a slower economy, decreasing natural resources, environmental degradation and "repoverty" (the return to poverty) have put pressure on achieving the target, Fan said.

Economist Li Yining shared a different story during the parliamentary session. He said some black goats were donated to poor farmers but they were slaughtered for food.

"Instead of 'just giving' we should make training a priority," Li said.

The draft of the 13th Five-Year Plan, which marks priorities for national development from 2016 to 2020, proposes support for poor villages to develop their own featured products and services.

In the draft, e-commerce was highlighted as a key tool to enable villagers to sell their wares; photovoltaic technology to boost infrastructure construction; and rural tourism to attract more visitors.

"Multiple measures concerning migration, training, education, environmental protection and subsistence security have been implemented," Fan said. "I believe the scheduled poverty reduction goals will be achieved by 2020."

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