Secrets behind China’s War on Poverty

Excerpts from an article written by Zheng Guichu originally appeared in Global Times, a daily newspaper published in Beijing, China

On last week of February China has announced, the last 98.99 million rural residents living under the current poverty line have all shaken off poverty over the past eight years. China indeed has created a “miracle.” As one might imagine, poverty alleviation in a country as populous as China is no easy task.

To thoroughly eliminate absolute poverty in China, Central and Local Governments worked closely together, waging a “people’s war” eliminating barriers blocking people’s pursuit of better living standards.

For example, people living in harsh mountainous areas, including 1,400 Tajik residents on the mountainous area of Pamirs in Xinjiang, were relocated to areas with better infrastructure, including medical, educational, and transportation facilities. Over 20 million impoverished patients around the country received advanced medical care. Drinking water projects in rural communities are gradually improved to ensure water safety. 17,581 modern drinking water facilities upgraded in Tibet alone allow over 2 million farmers and herdsmen to access clean water.

Moreover, 255,000 teams were dispatched to offer on-the-ground support, and over 3 million people went into the countryside as special commissioners for poverty relief, among which over 1,800 cadres lost their lives due to a variety of factors.

In addition to policy and financial support, China mobilizes the enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity of the disadvantaged to encourage them to create wealth through their own endeavours. The State focuses on cultural diversity and encourages impoverished rural residents to make good use of their knowledge and time tested abilities to develop and promote regional culture. As a result, sectors such as traditional handicrafts, regional delicacies, and local arts are flourishing, providing a vehicle for younger generations to start up business in their familiar areas.

To some extent, poverty alleviation in China reflects its view on human rights protection. China’s actions demonstrate that it believes human rights are about practical issues directly related to people’s livelihood, such as the right to fresh water, to adequate healthy food, to education, and to medical services.

While the international community is rating China’s achievements highly, some media outlets in the West keep challenging China’s poverty alleviation efforts with arguments that appear to be reasonable at face value.

Some have claimed that China has set a fairly low poverty line that is easy to achieve. On the contrary, China has always taken into account the World Bank poverty standards and purchasing power parity to set its poverty line, and its poverty threshold remains higher than that of the Bank and the UN 2030 Agenda.

Some have claimed that China’s poverty alleviation is unsustainable and a vanity project. However, this argument ignores the fact that China has set a five-year transition period to ensure all assistance and support policies are fully implemented and sustainable in the long term. The transition period allows for fine tuning of policies, and keeps China’s poverty alleviation on the Central Government agenda at a high level.

At this critical moment, unity and cooperation is the only correct choice countries must make. Truly sharing the fruits of social development and technological advancement is the only way for all countries to win the war against poverty.

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