VI. Poverty Reduction at a Crucial Stage
The remarkable achievements of China's poverty reduction strategy will figure prominently in the history of mankind's fight against poverty. However, the Chinese government is fully aware that the fight remains tough as the country still has a large population living in profound poverty, and the solutions to their problems are becoming increasingly costly and complex. Faced with these major problems, China has entered the crucial stage of poverty reduction - this will prove a hard nut to crack.
Most of the targets of China's poverty reduction efforts are now those living in extreme poverty, and this poses formidable problems for the country. The first issue is the scale of the problem. By the end of 2015, there were still 14 contiguous poor areas with special difficulties, 832 impoverished counties, 128,000 registered poor villages, and 55.75 million people living in poverty - this is the equivalent of the entire population of a medium-sized country. The second problem is the nature of the challenge - the increasing cost and complexity resulting from the extreme degree of poverty afflicting the majority of these people, and their weak capacity for development. The third is time pressure - China has set itself the goal of lifting 10 million people out of poverty every year from 2016. The fourth is the high risk of a return to poverty - a large number of poor households struggle to remain free of poverty, and can be pushed back into poverty as a result of factors such as natural disaster, illness, or issues involving education, marriage and housing; they therefore rejoin the existing impoverished population.
Chart: Rural population lifted out of poverty from 2011 to 2015 totaling 109.92 million
It is an essential requirement of socialism as well as a key mission of the CPC as the ruling party to eradicate poverty, improve people's living standards, and achieve common prosperity among the people. Since the 18th CPC National Congress held in 2012, aimed at eliminating poverty and better protecting the people's rights to live and to develop in impoverished areas, the CPC Central Committee led by General Secretary Xi Jinping has committed China to pursuing innovative, balanced and eco-friendly development featuring openness and sharing, to making best use of its political and institutional strengths, and to implementing the basic strategy of taking targeted measures for poverty alleviation. The Central Authorities are determined to mobilize all members of the Party and the society to achieve poverty eradication by ensuring that progress in development-oriented poverty alleviation is coordinated with overall economic and social development, by combining two strategies-applying targeted measures for poverty alleviation and developing contiguous poor areas with special difficulties, by attaching equal importance to poverty alleviation and ecological protection, and by integrating poverty alleviation with social security. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council jointly issued the Decision on Winning the Fight Against Poverty at the end of 2015, and defined the overall goals of poverty eradication for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020). By 2020, the state is committed to ensuring that the impoverished rural population has stable access to adequate food and clothing, compulsory education, and basic medical services and housing; to realizing a growth rate of per-capita disposable income in poor rural areas higher than the national average; to achieving indices of major basic public services close to the national average levels; to ensuring that the rural population living below the current poverty threshold and all impoverished counties are all lifted out of poverty; and to solving the problems of regional poverty. In March 2016, the Outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development was released, laying out strategies for striving toward the overall goals of poverty alleviation.
Based on statistics collected at the end of 2014 for the population living in poverty, the government has worked out specific schemes to actualize the overall goals: first, helping 30 million people who have the ability to work and possess productive skills to escape from poverty by supporting them in developing their industries; second, helping 10 million people escape from poverty by transferring them to locations where they can find employment; third, helping 10 million people whose land does not provide subsistence to escape from poverty by relocating them to other places; fourth, bringing all the impoverished population under the coverage of the rural subsistence allowance system and eradicating poverty through the guarantee of social security. The government has pledged to lift 10 million people out of poverty every year from 2016 on the basis of 2015 figure of 14.42 million.
Based on the National Plan for Poverty Alleviation in the 13th Five- Year Plan Period and the Annual Poverty Reduction Plan, central government departments have drawn up specific schemes and guidance for poverty alleviation. Local governments of the provinces and equivalent units have comprehensively implemented the central government plan, worked out local plans for poverty alleviation in the 13th Five-Year Plan period, and published their "1+N" targeted poverty alleviation policies (one over-all policy plus a number of supporting policies). All sectors have included poverty alleviation into their specialized industrial plans in the 13th Five-Year Plan period, and made poverty reduction a priority in implementation.
The government will provide solid financial support to achieve victory in the fight against poverty. In the coming five years, the state will ensure that its funding keeps pace with the needs of poverty alleviation. The central government will continue to increase transfer payments to impoverished areas and ensure substantial growth in central government funds for poverty alleviation. General transfer payments, specialized transfer payments concerning people's well-being, and investments within the central budget will be tilted in support of impoverished areas and population.
China remains an active advocate of the cause of world poverty alleviation, as well as a faithful practitioner and vigorous promoter of the cause of international human rights. China's commitment to lifting the entire impoverished population in rural areas out of poverty by 2020 is a prerequisite for completing the building of a moderately prosperous society, and a crucial step in implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, embodying its sense of responsibility to the world as a major country. China will continue to honor international obligations commensurate with the stage and status of its own development. It will strengthen exchanges and cooperation with developing countries and international organizations in the fields of poverty alleviation and human rights. It will promote the sharing of advanced concepts and experience in these fields through multiple channels such as foreign aid, project cooperation, technology transfer, and think-tank exchanges, in order to advance the vigorous development of the causes of poverty alleviation and human rights throughout the world.