Zigani Saturnin (L), a student from Burkina Faso, checks crop growth in the field at an agricultural experimental base in Quzhou County, north China's Hebei Province, July 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhu Xudong)
BEIJING, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose career has been closely associated with his country’s war against poverty, declared on Thursday that China has scored a “complete victory.”
The country has created a “China example” of poverty reduction and made great contributions to global poverty alleviation, Xi said when addressing a gathering marking the country’s accomplishments in poverty eradication and commending role models in that cause.
During the race against impoverishment at home, the Chinese president is keenly aware that poverty eradication is a common ideal of humanity. He thus has urged his country to play an increasingly proactive role in global efforts to reduce poverty.
Xi calls it “the bigger perspective.”
In the late 1960s, Xi, who was then less than 16 years of age, came to a small village on the loess plateau of northern Shaanxi Province and worked on the land there for seven years.
Back then, peasants had nothing to offer but sweat and toil in hopes of living better, but due to a severe scarcity of resources, that still seemed a pie in the sky for the rural impoverished.
That experience has built enduring momentum in Xi’s devotion to the anti-poverty cause.
By the end of 2010, China’s economy was about 6 trillion U.S. dollars, overtaking Japan as the world’s second-largest economy, while there remained nearly 150 million people whose income was less than one dollar a day.
When China’s per capita GDP rose from 4,551 dollars in 2010 to 10,276 dollars in 2019 — crossing the 10,000-dollar mark for the first time, Xi has repeatedly said “no single poor area or individual shall be left behind.”
Over the past decade, the overarching goal of China’s anti-poverty endeavor was to realize the Two Assurances and Three Guarantees — to ensure the rural poor do not have to worry about food and clothing, and have access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing.
“It is a basic requirement and core indicator in our poverty eradication effort that by 2020 we will succeed in delivering the Two Assurances and Three Guarantees for impoverished rural residents,” Xi said during an inspection tour of southwest China’s Chongqing municipality in April 2019.
“This is key to the success of the final stage of our fight against poverty,” he said.
While the Chinese people are moving closer to realizing what has come to be known as the Chinese dream, hundreds of millions of people in other countries are still living in extreme poverty.
“We cannot but feel deep concern that more than 800 million still go to bed every day with an empty stomach,” Xi said, addressing the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at the UN headquarters in New York.
As a developing nation, China will share its development opportunities with other developing countries, Xi pledged on the same day at the High-level Roundtable on South-South Cooperation.
“China will closely link its development with the common growth of the developing world, connect the Chinese dream with the dream of all the people in the developing countries for a better life, and join hands with other developing countries to create a bright future for common progress,” he said.
TARGETED POVERTY ALLEVIATION
In 2012, there were still nearly 100 million people living below the national poverty line — 2300 yuan (about 356 dollars in the current value) or less per year, a new but tough period in China’s anti-poverty war.
The idea of “targeted poverty alleviation” proves to be China’s mighty weapon in its final push against poverty, which was first put forward by Xi during an inspection tour in 2013 to Shibadong, a Miao minority village in the central province of Hunan.
Despite its location deep in the mountains, Shibadong abounds in ethnic charm and ecological resources. Therefore, the villagers decided to bet their future on six major industries, including Miao embroidery and rural tourism.
In early 2017, all the 533 impoverished residents in the village were lifted out of poverty, while the net per capita income grew nearly ninefold between 2013 and 2019.
In 2018, Lao President Bounnhang Vorachith led a delegation to Shibadong to learn from its playbook of fighting poverty.
As Laos is striving to reduce poverty, the village’s success has become a model for his country, Bounnhang wrote to Shibadong villagers in 2019.
Having blazed a poverty reduction path with Chinese characteristics, China, under Xi’s guidance, is helping other developing countries transform their resource endowment into development advantages.
In 2000, Xi helped launch the pilot Juncao project to help improve the livelihood of the Papua New Guinea people, when he was the governor of southeast China’s Fujian Province.
Juncao, famed as “magic grass” and discovered by Chinese scientists, is an economical and environmentally friendly substitute for timber, which can be used as a substrate for growing mushrooms.
Eighteen years later, during Xi’s visit to the Oceania country, the two countries signed another aid project using the grass technology. By 2023, the aid program is expected to lift 30,000 local people out of poverty.
At a UN meeting in 2019, former President of the General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces described Juncao as “emblematic of China’s Belt and Road Initiative,” which, according to the World Bank’s estimates, could contribute to lifting 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million out of moderate poverty.
Over the past eight years, China has lifted 98.99 million poor rural residents under the current poverty line out of poverty, with 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 poor villages removed from the poverty list, Xi said Thursday, hailing the country’s achievement of eradicating absolute poverty as a miracle that shall “go down in history.”
It was a hard-fought battle, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, which emerged in late 2019, tore through China’s economy.
Thanks to China’s dual efforts to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 and stabilize economic and social development, its economy emerged as the only major economy to grow in 2020, with a 2.3-percent increase of GDP year on year, official data showed in mid-January.
Despite China’s rebound, other emerging markets and developing economies, however, may trace diverging recovery paths, as the pandemic is still mauling many parts of the world, according to the World Economic Outlook Update released by the International Monetary Fund on Jan. 26.
The quest to end poverty has suffered its worst setback for the first time in a generation.
The COVID-19 crisis is forecast to pull 32 million people back into extreme poverty and efforts to rebuild the economies of the world’s poorest nations post-pandemic will fall significantly short, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in December.
It called for swift, significant and substantial policy action.
In his special address at the World Economic Forum Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda in January, Xi said as a steadfast member of developing countries, China will further deepen South-South cooperation, and contribute to the endeavor of developing countries to eradicate poverty, ease debt burden, and achieve more growth.
At the G20 Riyadh Summit on Nov. 21, Xi said “we should keep our support for developing countries and help them overcome the hardships caused by the pandemic.”
He pledged that China will increase the level of debt suspension and relief for countries facing particular difficulties and encourage its financial institutions to provide new financing support on a voluntary basis and according to market principles.
“Past a fallen ship, one thousand sail onward,” Xi said, quoting a Chinese poem. “In that spirit, let us join hands to deliver a better life for our people and build a community with a shared future for mankind.” Enditem