The success story of China’s poverty alleviation

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By Li Bijian, Consul General of China in Karachi

By the end of this year, China will officially eradicate absolute poverty. In the past more than 40 years since China has begun to implement the policy of reform and opening-up and started the journey of poverty alleviation, more than 850 million people have been alleviated from poverty, accounting 70% of the world total and China alone has made unprecedented efforts and contributions to fulfill the dream of “No Poverty” of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Being the largest developing country, China has constantly put the poverty alleviation the top priority by mobilizing all social forces and implementing a comprehensive strategy. Especially since the 18th National Congress of Communist Party of China in 2012, CPC has been making unremitting efforts and taking poverty alleviation as the bottom line mission and landmark indicator of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. From 2012 to 2019, the poverty stricken population has been reduced from 98.99 million to 5.51 million, and the poverty incidence has declined from 10.2% to 0.6%, over 10 million people alleviated from poverty per year for the past seven consecutive years and making it to be the largest poverty alleviation population in the world, creating a “China Miracle” in the history of poverty alleviation.

China has successfully embarked on an exploring path of poverty alleviation with Chinese characteristics, formed the poverty alleviation system with Chinese characteristics, and written a new chapter in the human history of anti-poverty. China’s achievements on poverty alleviation have been widely recognized by the international community. Some of the following Chinese experience of poverty alleviation may be shared and learned so as to enrich the global theory and practice of poverty governance.

I. Led by the government

Since the late 1970s, China has started to carry out organized rural poverty alleviation exploration in large-scale by integrating it into the overall national development strategy. China formulated and implemented the Seven-year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program (1994-2000), the Outline for Poverty Alleviation and Development of China’s Rural Areas (2001-2010), the Outline for Development-oriented Poverty Alleviation for China’s Rural Areas (2011-2020), together with a few other poverty alleviation plans, making poverty alleviation a common target and action of the whole society. In 2014, governments at all levels established steering groups of poverty alleviation work, clarifying the principal responsibilities, and setting up the responsibility system of poverty alleviation led by the head of the Party and the government at different level. In 2016, the phased goal of achieving the “two worries-free” (do not worry about eating, do not worry about wearing) and “three guarantees” (to ensure compulsory education, basic medical care and housing security)was laid out to ensure that the rural population living below the current poverty threshold and the impoverished counties shall all be lifted out of poverty by 2020. China draws up long-term poverty alleviation plans while sets annual targets, timely releases relevant policy documents according to the characters and tasks at different stages and periods, to take large-scale special anti-poverty actions, formulate and implement the developmental plans for women, children, the disabled as well as the ethnic minorities.

II. Getting the whole society involved

China is the world’s largest developing country with mass of impoverished population, complex reasons and national conditions, the poverty alleviation task is closely related to political, economic, educational, medical, cultural, and ecological factors. China’s poverty alleviation plan has been fully exploiting the socialist system’s advantages to concentrate resources and accomplish large undertakings, established the great pattern of poverty alleviation led by CPC, dominated by the governments, participated by the whole society and implemented in concert. A trans-regional, inter-departmental, and society-wide system of poverty alleviation has bee set up. These including: the Central Government strengthens the measures to expand the fiscal transfer payment to the poor provinces; providing special funds to support the implementation of various poverty alleviation projects; the higher education institutions across the country enroll more students from the poor areas; promoting educational poverty alleviation program through sending teachers from the cities to the schools in the rural areas; narrows down the gaps of development between the developed east regions and the under-developed central and western regions through the counterpart assistance program; providing assistance to the relevant poor areas by the major State owned enterprises and the various Departments of the Central Government through the counterpart mechanism. In addition, various social forces have been mobilized to participate through the “Hope Project” and “Glorious Cause” project etc. 

III. Based on reform, opening up and sustainable development

Reform and opening up is not only the vital approach to build up the country but an effective way to eradicate poverty also. China’s reform and opening up has achieved huge dividends including maintaining rapid economic growth, the steady annual increase of national fiscal revenues, which have set a sound financial foundation for poverty alleviation. On one hand, the government has expanded investment and greatly improved the infrastructure in the poor areas and created the condition for the people to fight against poverty. On the other hand, the Government has plenty financial resources, expanded transfer payment to those poor areas and increased the supply of public goods and services, which guarantee the implementation of poverty reduction actions. Along with the economic growth and the consolidation of the comprehensive national strength, the people’s well-being has greatly improved and the basic public service system has been making constant improvement. Tremendous progress has been made in ensuring that all the people enjoy their rights to education, employment, medical and old-age care, and housing. The implementation of the inclusive programs that help improve livelihood and provide social welfare assistance for the poor areas has been achieved. The multi-level and diverse needs of the people has been guaranteed. The results of poverty alleviation have been consolidated.

IV. Adhering to a precise strategy

The key to poverty alleviation is the poverty-stricken people. The relevant work may become effective when efforts must be focused on arousing the enthusiasm of the poor people to fight against poverty. Therefore, precise strategy shall be applied accordingly. Prospering and growing together becomes the national plan and main task of poverty alleviation. The key measures are: focusing on enthusiasm arousing, providing know-how and skills; combining one’s own efforts with assistance from outside; integrating the self-developmental program with social security; putting the efforts of implementation of special projects and projects in different sectors and the whole society together; and combining the national and special preferential policies. Through constant efforts and hard working, China has finally achieved the expected results of precise target, precise measures to households, precise utilization of funds and precise effect of poverty alleviation.

V. Carrying out active international cooperation

Since the early 1990s, China has been successively carrying out poverty alleviation cooperation with various international organizations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other financial organizations, United Nations, and relevant NGOs while promoting bilateral cooperation at this regard with many developed countries including Japan, Germany, USA, UK etc. The main areas of cooperation including: implementing comprehensive development projects and providing technical assistance in poverty stricken areas; carrying out researches on significant issues; strengthening the capacity building; setting up exchange platforms; holding training courses; and carrying out assistance programs for developing countries. The assistance provided by the international community has greatly relieved China’s pressure of insufficient investment and lacking of experience and expertise, leading to positive impacts on the effects, policies, and mechanisms of China’s poverty alleviation, and effectively pushing the process of China’s poverty alleviation forward.

VI. Making contribution to the world cause of poverty alleviation

China’s commitment to lift the entire impoverished population out of poverty by 2020 is not only a prerequisite for building a moderately prosperous society, but also a crucial step in implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which shows its sense of responsibility to the world as a major country. As of now, China has provided nearly RMB400 billion foreign aid and sent over 600,000 aid workers to 160 countries and international organizations. China has unconditionally waived the interest-free loans to heavily indebted countries and the least developed countries. China has also provided medical assistance to more than 70 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania, and China has helped more than 120 developing countries in realizing their Millennium Goals.

As the most populous developing country in the world, China’s endeavor to eliminate absolute poverty is of great significance far beyond China itself and contributes enormously to the development and progress of human civilization. Even though the national conditions vary from country to country and the ways and means to tackle the poverty issue differ greatly, elimination of poverty forms the common aspiration and major task of the whole world. China’s successful practice, the road map and blue print in poverty alleviation presents a great case and example to developing countries around the world. It is sincerely hoped that the vast majority of developing countries, including Pakistan, may learn experience and inspiration, gain confidence, and demonstrate ambition and wisdom from China’s exploration of poverty alleviation, and find the right path of fighting against poverty and cherishing the dream of development suitable to their own national conditions, which will not only benefit their own people but build a community of shared future for mankind also.


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