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Full Text: Pooling Strengths for Poverty Alleviation Works Miracle

2021-04-18 00:05

On April 19, 2021, H. E. Ambassador Zhang Zuo has published an article on China's poverty alleviation efforts in the newspaper Вечер. Тhe English version of the full text is as follows:

Poverty alleviation is a common cause of human society. For thousands of years, the Chinese people have been striving hard to get rid of poverty. Since the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1921, the CPC has united and led the people of all ethnic groups to fight poverty with unwavering conviction and tenacious will. Since the founding of the new China in 1949 and the Reform and Opening up in 1978, China has experienced great development. And poverty alleviation has been accelerated. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the CPC Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, has united and led the Chinese people to fight a decisive battle against poverty, which is unprecedented in scale and intensity and benefiting the largest number of people in human history, and achieved the poverty alleviation targets of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. I would like to show the joint efforts at this battle on poverty from four perspectives.

First, from the perspective of President Xi Jinping's visit to a village in Yunnan province. 2020 is a decisive year in China's fight against poverty. On the afternoon of January 19, President Xi Jinping visited the village of Wa ethnic group in Tengchong County in Yunnan. Xi Jinping walked into the villagers' homes to learn the situation of poverty alleviation, and stressed that "it has always been my wish and our common goal to ensure the people of all ethnic groups live a good life." In fact, to ensure a happy life for the Chinese people, has always been the deepest concern of President Xi. At the end of 2012, after the 18th CPC National Congress in that November, despite cold , President Xi went to Luotuowan Village and Gujiatai Village in Fuping County, Hebei Province to check with peasants in need. During that visit, Xi proposed for the first time the concept of "giving differentiated guidance for targeted poverty alleviation in line with local conditions by seeking truth from facts". From this strategy of development-driven poverty alleviation began the campaign against poverty in the new era.

For 8 years, President Xi Jinping has personally assumed leadership, made plans, and directed the battle against poverty. Xi made over 50 fact-finding trips, visited every one of the 14 contiguous impoverished areas across the country and over 20 poor villages. In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed for the first time the important idea of "Targeted Poverty Alleviation" on his inspection tour to Shibadong Village, Huayuan County, Hunan Province. In 2015, at the National Conference on Development-driven Poverty Alleviation, President Xi Jinping sounded the bugle call to battle, "We should be determined, dedicate ourselves, and work hard towards this goal". In 2017, President Xi Jinping emphasized in the report to the 19th CPC National Congress that "we will resolutely win the battle against poverty ". In 2020, despite the sudden attack of Covid-19, President Xi Jinping hosted the largest-ever national discussion in China on fighting poverty, mobilizing the whole country to "push forward the battle against poverty with greater determination and higher intensity." At the grand gathering held in February 2021, to mark China's achievements in poverty alleviation and to honor its model fighters against poverty, President Xi Jinping solemnly announced the elimination of absolute poverty in China, creating another human miracle that will be inscribed in history.

Second, from the experience of targeted support by the Ministry of Foreign Affair. The central government ministries' targeted support to impoverished counties is an important component of the poverty alleviation by development program with Chinese characteristics. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has provided targeted support to Jinping and Malipo, two impoverished counties in Yunnan Province. Ministers in the Foreign Ministry led the poverty alleviation team to the two counties on a regular basis. They carried out field inspections and investigations, held discussions and exchanged ideas with leaders in the province, the related prefectures and counties, chose the right path and formed plans for poverty alleviation. The Foreign Ministry has sent 38 poverty alleviation representatives and three First Secretaries to be stationed at villages in the poverty-stricken counties of Jinping and Malipo in Yunnan Province, helping local people improve their well-being, such as ensuring their drinking water and adequate food, as well as providing them education and health care. Taking full advantage of its "diplomatic strength", the Foreign Ministry overcame difficulties and worked in innovative ways, investing over 467 million RMB in the two counties, implementing more than 1,600 projects in education, health care, drinking water, vocational training, building "beautiful countryside" and industries. Those projects have directly benefited more than 400,000 people and made contributions to the two counties getting deregistered as "impoverished counties" in 2020.

Poverty alleviation is a sophisticated mega-project which requires arduous and systematic effort. Since the beginning of the battle against poverty in 2012, 307 institutions of the central government have provided targeted support to 592 impoverished counties. The military provided targeted support to 4,100 impoverished villages. 127,000 private enterprises participated in the targeted poverty alleviation campaign of "Thousands of Enterprises Helping Thousands of Villages", by gathering resources to rural and impoverished areas, helping 139,100 villages (including 73,200 impoverished villages) in forms of setting up industries, solving the problems of employment, improving public welfare and offering education, benefiting 18.0385 million people. China has devoted a great deal of manpower, material and financial resources to poverty alleviation. Since 2013, more than 3 million team leaders/first Party secretaries and 255,000 working teams have been selected and dispatched to carry out targeted poverty alleviation, working side by side with 2 million township officials and millions of village officials. Over the past 8 years, China has lifted over 10 million people out of poverty every year on average. That is equivalent to lifting the entire population of a medium-sized country out of poverty every year, or one person being lifted above the poverty line every three seconds. It is a miracle that a country has managed to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty in such a short period of time.

Thirdly, from the experience of the paired assistance and collaboration model of poverty alleviation between Fujiang Province (abbreviated as Min) and Ningxia Province (abbreviated as Ning). In 1996, Xi Jinping, then Deputy Decretary of the Fujian provincial Party Committee, served as the leader of leading group on Fujian-Ningxia paired assistance poverty-alleviation, directly responsible for promoting the project of "Fujian-Ningxia (Min-Ning) paired assistance and collaboration of poverty-alleviation", since "Min" is the abbreviation for Fujian Province (a province in eastern region) and "Ning" is the abbreviation for Ningxia Province (a province in western region). Xi provided important guidance on paired assistance by paying inspection visits to Ningxia twice, delivering three important speeches, and attending the Joint Meeting for Min-Ning Poverty Alleviation and Cooperation for five times. Fujian and Ningxia formed a collaboration mechanism featuring joint promotion, paired assistance, industry-driven development, mutual learning and supporting, as well as participation of wider social forces. In April 1997, during his visit to Xihaigu, the southern mountainous area of Ningxia, in view of the harsh environment that is not fit for people to survive, Xi initiated a program called "poverty alleviation through relocation" that reallocates the impoverished people to a better place, and named the relocation village as "Min-Ning Village". This created a new model of poverty-alleviation collaboration between the eastern and western region of China. Even after he worked at the Central Committee, Xi has always paid attention to Min-Ning collaboration. In April 2008, he went to Xihaigu again for in-depth inspection and research. In July 2016, walking into Yuan Long Village of Min-Ning Town (the former Min-Ning Village, which has now developed to a larger scale), Xi said with emotions, "Min-Ning poverty-alleviation collaboration has truly blazed a broad path". In June 2020, while visiting Ningxia, Xi made critical instructions to further promote Min-Ning collaboration in the new era.

Fujian and Ningxia have always regarded "Development-driven Poverty Alleviation" as their priorities. Fujian has dispatched 11 teams of 183 public servants in total and more than 2,000 professionals to assist Ningxia. Also, Fujian has embraced over 50,000 impoverished people from Ningxia and provided stable employment for them. More than 5,700 companies from Fujian established their business in Ningxia. Among all poverty-alleviation workshops that Fujian built in Ningxia, more than half are in Xihaigu, the mountainous region of extreme poverty. More than 80% of the income of the impoverished in Ningxia comes from development of various industries. Meanwhile, over one million people in Ningxia shook off poverty through relocation. Like the paired assistance between Fujian and Ningxia, the whole country focuses on strengthening paired assistance in poverty-alleviation collaboration between eastern region and central and western regions in the battle against poverty, since the former are much more developed than the latter. In an action to "achieve moderate prosperity hand in hand", 343 counties (county-level cities or districts) in 9 provincial-level administrative units in eastern China have offered paired assistance to 573 poor counties in 14 provincial-level administrative units in central and western China. From 2015 to 2020, 131,000 party cadres and technical professionals have been exchanged between eastern and western regions. More than 22,000 enterprises of eastern region have invested RMB 1.1 trillion in their paired poverty alleviation areas. Eastern provincial-level administrative units and some institutions in the central government have formed pairs with provinces including Xizang (Tibet), Xinjiang and Qinghai to provide targeted assistance. Teams of outstanding teachers and medical professionals have been selected and sent in groups to assist Xizang and Xinjiang. In this way, different regions complemented each other and narrowed their development gap, so that poverty alleviation could be coordinated at national level.

Fourth, from the experience of improving the power grid in Xizang (Tibet). Deeply impoverished areas are the poor among the poor and the hard core among the hard cores. They are the hard bones that are related to the success of the fight against poverty. Xizang is the only provincial-level region with contiguous poor areas in China, due to its harsh natural environment and weak infrastructure. Yet, a miracle has been created in Xizang that shined through the history of power grid construction in the world. Since 2016, the State Council has allocated a total of RMB 53.2 billion from the central budget for the upgrade of the national power grid in rural areas, including RMB 14.12 billion for upgrading the power grid in rural areas of Xizang, accounting for over 26% of the total investment. The local government of Xizang views the improvement of power distribution in agricultural and pastoral areas as a major livelihood project. It has implemented a series of projects to make sure every household has access to power grid. Projects such as the transformation and upgrading of power lines in rural areas, the construction of power grids in severely impoverished areas were implemented. Since 2016, Xizang Electric Power Company, State Grid has completed a total investment of RMB 49.4 billion in power grid, and successively constructed four major projects namely, "power channels" of Qinghai-Xizang, Sichuan-Xizang and grid connection of Central Areas of Xizang and grid connection of Ngari Prefecture with the national grid, which completely solved the problem of power shortage that has plagued Xizang for many years. It has provided a strong guarantee for poverty-stricken areas in Xizang to finally get rid of poverty.

A poverty alleviation management network with Chinese characteristics has been established from practice, with the central government acting as coordinator, provincial governments taking overall responsibility, and city and county governments overseeing implementation. While focused on the 14 contiguous poor areas across the country, the network covers all poor areas and officials are sent to villages to help every needy household. All sectors of society are mobilized to unite with poverty alleviation as common purpose and act in unison. The leading officials of 22 provinces and equivalent administrative units in central and western China signed written pledges to the central leadership. In Xizang, Poverty Alleviation Commands at the four administrative levels of autonomous region, municipality, county, township were set up. With pledges signed, officials at all levels worked towards the same goal. By the end of 2019, all 74 poverty-stricken counties and 628,000 registered impoverished population in Xizang have got rid of the poverty. The average annual per capita income of the impoverished has increased from 1,499 RMB in 2015 to 9,328 RMB in 2019. Infrastructure such as transportation, power grids, and telecommunications has been significantly improved. Emerging services such as online shopping and mobile payment have been extended in remote farming and pastoral areas. An answer sheet on poverty alleviation that can stand the test of history has been delivered on the plateau.

Fulfilling the promise of "no one can be left behind" and with the unswerving determination, all 98.99 million people in rural areas who were living below the current poverty threshold shook off poverty; all 832 designated poor counties and all the 128,000 impoverished villages got rid of poverty. Impoverished people in China were registered and deregistered by household. The criteria are personal incomes, and the household's situation with reference to the "Two Assurances and Three Guarantees". The criterion of personal incomes requires that the annual average per capita income for a household remains steady above China's current poverty line. "Two Assurances and Three Guarantees" refers to guarantees of adequate food and clothing, and access to compulsory education, basic medical services, and safe housing for impoverished rural residents. China's standards for deregistering those who have emerged from poverty are comprehensive, including income, and the extent to which they are assured the rights to subsistence and development. These standards reflect the realities of China's social and economic development as well as the basic requirements for achieving moderate prosperity in all respects.

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