Poverty Alleviation: Common Cause, Great Achievements
H.E Mr. Sun Weidong, Chinese Ambassador to India
On February 25th, Chinese President Xi Jinping solemnly announced to the world that, thanks to the hard work over the past 8 years, China’s final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents under the current standard had all been lifted out of poverty, and the country’s region-wide poverty had been eradicated. China met the poverty eradication target set out in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. China made historic achievements in wiping out absolute poverty facing the Chinese nation for thousands of years.
This means, 770 million Chinese rural residents have shaken off poverty since the beginning of reform and opening-up over 40 years ago. In the past 8 years, more than 10 million people have been lifted out of poverty on average each year. This means, those lifted out of poverty are free from worries over food and clothing and have access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing, as well as clean drinking water. This means, nearly 20 million impoverished people enjoy subsistence allowances and extreme poverty aid, and more than 24 million people in difficulties or with severe disabilities receive living and nursing subsidies. This means, all townships and administrative villages with feasible conditions have been connected to asphalt or cement roads, 1.1 million kilometers of rural roads in poverty-stricken areas have been built or upgraded, and the power supply reliability rate of rural power grids reached 99%. This means, dilapidated buildings of 25.68 million impoverished rural residents have been renovated, and more than 9.6 million people have moved into new houses. The rights to subsistence and development are primary basic human rights. The above figures are a vivid manifestation in explaining the Chinese government’s “people-centered” philosophy of governance.
The “code of success” behind China’s poverty alleviation is the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, the spirit of self-reliance and hard work of the Chinese nation, the solid material foundation accumulated since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, especially since the reform and opening-up, and the persistence and perseverance that has been carried out tenure by tenure, generation after generation, as well as the concerted efforts of the whole Party and Chinese people of all ethnic groups.
In the past 8 years, President Xi Jinping has presided over the Central Poverty Alleviation Work Symposium 7 times and conducted more than 50 studies on poverty alleviation. He traveled through 14 contiguous poor areas and talked face-to-face with impoverished rural residents about their family lives and incomes. Under the strong leadership of the Party and the government, China launched a massive people’s war against poverty, opened a magnificent chapter in history, and countless touching stories emerged prominently.
One example is Ms.Huang Wenxiu, a girl born in a peasant family in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. After obtaining master’s degree, she gave up job opportunities in big cities and returned to her impoverished home village to be a Party secretary, dedicated to changing local poverty and backwardness. She spent 2 months visiting all 195 poor households of the village, learning about their respective conditions and the root of poverty, and mapping out the distribution of impoverished households. She led the villagers to improve the roads, water supply and electric facilities, and develop planting industries such as cedar and sugar orange, which enabled the impoverished households to embark on the road to a prosperous life. In June 2019, she encountered a flash flood at work and lost her life at the age of 30.
Ms.Huang is an outstanding representative of hundreds of thousands of poverty alleviation officials in China. Since 2013, under the guidance of “targeted poverty alleviation”, more than 3 million officials have been selected and assigned to the front line of poverty alleviation across China. They took roots in impoverished villages and carried out “precision irrigation” according to specific conditions of villages, households and individuals. They selflessly dedicate their time and energy to the cause of poverty alleviation, exchanging their “hard-work index” for villagers’ “happiness index”, changing fates of countless people. Among them, more than 1,800 sacrificed their lives on this journey of poverty alleviation.
As an old Chinese saying goes, ” it’s better to pass on fishing skills than to hand out fish.” Development is the golden key to sustainable poverty reduction. The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) combines the policies of poverty alleviation and new energy development to carry out the “Sunshine Poverty Alleviation Action” in poverty-stricken areas with sufficient sunshine resources. It established photovoltaic (PV) power stations in impoverished villages and opened a “sunshine bankbook” for each villager to regularly receive dividends from power generation. Farmers could also develop PV plus industries, such as mushrooms breeding, flowers and ornamental plants cultivation in PV power plants to bring additional income. From a “blood-transfusion” poverty alleviation to a “blood-making” model, these programs addressed the root causes of poverty with development, injecting sustainable energy into poverty eradication and effectively reducing the return-to-poverty rate.
Eradicating poverty is a global challenge and a common dream for all mankind since ancient times. The history of China’s development is a history of Chinese nation’s battle against poverty. China’s poverty reduction experience can be summarized as 5 “D”s, namely Determined Leadership, Detailed Blueprint, Development Oriented, Data-based Governance and Decentralized Delivery. China’s approach to poverty alleviation provides new perspectives and useful experiences for poverty reduction across the world.
As the world’s largest developing country, China’s development and poverty alleviation efforts have gradually benefited other developing countries and regions. Coffee is one of Rwanda’s main agricultural products for export. Last year, Rwanda was once locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the coffee orders from Europe and the United States sharply dropped. Rwandan coffee farmers went through a rough patch of dull sale during the harvest season. The situation changed late last year, when a Chinese e-commerce platform linked Rwandan coffee beans to Chinese consumers. H.E. Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and H.E. James Kimonyo, Rwanda’s ambassador to China, personally sold Rwandan coffee through live streaming e-commerce. Within one single second, 1500 kg of Rwandan coffee beans were sold out in China, equivalent to the total sales in the whole past year. The popularization of digitization not only allows Chinese farmers in poverty-stricken areas to explore new market for high-quality agricultural products through online platforms, but also makes developing countries benefit from China’s huge market.
Based on eradicating its own poverty, China has actively provided assistance within its capacity to developing countries. The South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund established by China has implemented more than 200 development cooperation projects in more than 30 countries. As a founding member of the United Nations’ Alliance for Poverty Eradication, China shared its poverty reduction experience internationally through the China Poverty Reduction International Forum, the China-Africa High-Level Dialogue on Fighting Against Poverty for Common Prosperity, and the China-ASEAN Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction. Earlier this year, China-ASEAN “Cloud-Classes on Youth Contribution in Poverty Alleviation” project was launched, in which China shared its poverty alleviation experience with ASEAN youth organizations in an “online plus offline” pattern. Currently, e-commerce poverty alleviation, industrial poverty alleviation, tourism poverty alleviation, financial poverty alleviation and education poverty alleviation have been incorporated into the top-level poverty alleviation design in many Southeast Asian countries.
China and India are the only two countries with a population of more than one billion, both of us are ancient civilizations, large agricultural countries, and members of the United Nations’ Alliance for Poverty Eradication. It is our common long-cherished wish to shake off poverty at an early date. As representatives of Asian countries, both China and India are working hard to explore ways of poverty alleviation in accordance with national conditions, and have carried out cooperation in forestry, agriculture and technology exchange under the framework of South-South cooperation. China-India cooperation in poverty reduction has huge potential and broad prospects, and is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and their peoples. On the journey toward poverty alleviation, China is willing to work hand in hand with India, learn from each other, and jointly achieve the goal of lifting 2.7 billion people out of poverty and enabling our peoples to live a prosperous life at an early date, jointly making due contribution to the cause of poverty alleviation for mankind.