Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference held by the State Council Information Office. 2020 is the year of the completion of China's poverty alleviation tasks. On March 6, General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at a symposium on securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation. He emphasized the importance of overcoming the impact of COVID-19 to clinch a complete victory in the fight against poverty. Today, we have invited Mr. Liu Yongfu, director of the Office of State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development. He will introduce the measures to implement the guidelines derived from remarks made by General Secretary Xi Jinping on securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation. He will also answer some of your questions. First, I'll give the floor to Mr. Liu.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends, good morning. Welcome to today's press conference. I would like to thank all of you for your long-term concern and support for China's poverty alleviation cause.
General Secretary Xi Jinping chaired a symposium on securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation on March 6, at the critical moment for COVID-19 epidemic control and also the beginning of the 300-day countdown to the completion of the poverty eradication task. This symposium is the seventh one on poverty alleviation chaired by General Secretary Xi Jinping and was the largest of its kind in the past six years. The symposium was a teleconference attended by officials in provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the country, as well as responsible comrades at the county level in 22 central and western provinces who have signed the letter of responsibility for tackling poverty to the central government. At the symposium, General Secretary Xi Jinping fully acknowledged the achievements in poverty alleviation, made a profound analysis of problems and challenges, and issued new arrangements and strict instructions on securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation and the completion of relevant tasks. Arguably, the symposium has charted out the direction to accomplish our poverty alleviation tasks and win the hard battle against poverty with determination.
This symposium has sent out a mobilization order for poverty alleviation to the entire Communist Party of China (CPC) and the whole society. It sounded a bugle for the victory in the fight against poverty, and provided fundamental guidelines for the completion of poverty alleviation tasks. It reflects the arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee on balancing epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development, as well as the plans of the CPC Central Committee on coordinating epidemic control and poverty alleviation with equal importance. The symposium has showcased General Secretary Xi Jinping's devotion to the people's well-being with a great sense of responsibility as a leader serving the people. It has also demonstrated our strong will and determination to win the fight against the novel coronavirus and the hard battle against poverty.
Since the symposium concluded, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development has been working with relevant parties to implement the arrangements made by the leading group. Government bodies at both central and local levels have been putting in enormous effort in this regard, learning from each other's experiences and forging ahead. With General Secretary Xi Jinping's guidance and hand-on efforts, as well as the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, we have faith that we will win the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, score a victory in the tough battle against poverty, and fully accomplish the task of poverty alleviation.
I would like to take this opportunity to briefly introduce the progress that has been made towards poverty alleviation and our future work plans. It is well known that in 2015 the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government put forward clear targets on poverty alleviation. The aim was that by the end of 2020, all poor people and counties under the current standards would be lifted out of poverty and regional poverty would be resolved. After more than seven years of targeted poverty alleviation work, and especially intensified efforts over the past four-plus years, rural poverty population under the current standards has declined from 98.99 million at the end of 2012 to 5.51 million at the end of last year. The number of poor counties has also decreased from 832 to 52 this year. We are getting close to the goal of eliminating poverty. The income of impoverished people has increased noticeably and their working and living conditions in poverty-stricken areas have improved significantly. Socio-economic development in poor areas has accelerated remarkably and China's governance capacity for poverty alleviation has also improved considerably. These are our achievements so far.
Next, we will follow the arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the requirements put forward by General Secretary Xi Jinping. First, we will minimize the impact of the epidemic on poverty alleviation work. We will not allow a scenario whereby the epidemic affects our progress in attaining the poverty alleviation targets. In particular, we will support the poor in seeking jobs outside their hometowns; we will carry out consumption-driven alleviation, focusing on the sale of agricultural products, especially those sold by poor people; and we will launch and resume poverty alleviation projects to ensure that they are completed in the first half of the year. Second, we will complete the remaining poverty alleviation tasks, focusing on the 52 counties and 1,113 most impoverished villages among the 2,707 poor villages. With supervision and scrutiny, we will make sure that they are lifted out of poverty on schedule. Third, we will consolidate the current achievements in poverty alleviation. Of the 93 million poor people who have been lifted out of poverty, some are relatively vulnerable. We must prevent these people from returning to poverty.
In addition, we will also prevent those living near the poverty line from falling into poverty. For those who have been lifted out of poverty, we will continue to carry out industry- and employment-based poverty alleviation work and follow-up on the task of relocating poor people. At the same time, we will establish a tracking and pairing assistance mechanism for vulnerable groups to prevent the occurrence of poverty and the emergence of new poverty cases.
2020 is the final year in attaining the goal of eradicating poverty. We have already had to overcome many challenges, whilst the COVID-19 outbreak has brought new ones. I know you are very concerned about how we will meet the targets. Now I would like to take your questions on poverty alleviation. Thank you.
Thank you, Director Liu. We are now open to questions. Please identify your news outlet before asking your question.