How does China's people-centric approach work?

China has pledged to eliminate poverty and complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects this year, according to a government work report submitted to the third session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) in May, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To complete the mission, 5.51 million people must be lifted out of poverty across 52 counties within a little over six months.

In the battle against poverty, China's efforts have brought impoverished people opportunities for a better life. More than 93 million rural people in China shook off poverty from 2013 to 2019, and for seven consecutive years more than 10 million people in the country exited poverty annually.

President Xi Jinping, speaking during an inspection to northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from June 8 to 10, said the success represents the fine tradition of the Chinese nation and the great strength of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics to enable people of all ethnic groups to walk hand in hand into a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

People-centered philosophy and poverty alleviation

A people-centric approach is central to Xi's political philosophy. It is part of the country's agenda, alongside tackling corruption, alleviating poverty and improving people's standards of living, as well as COVID-19 prevention and control effort.

Since he became general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in 2012, Xi has said on different occasions that "the people's desire for a better life is the goal we strive to realize."

"No single ethnic minority group should be left behind in the country's building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects," Xi said during the visit to Ningxia in June, when addressing the poverty alleviation issue.

He told local officials and Party members to uphold a people-centered philosophy of development, putting the interests of farmers first in developing modern agriculture and cultural tourism projects to increase their income.

People, lives come first during COVID-19 pandemic

The people-centric philosophy has been fundamental to China's COVID-19 prevention and control efforts. After the COVID-19 outbreak began, the CPC Central Committee, led by Xi, responded quickly and vowed to protect people's life and health at all costs.

The central government mobilized medical workers as well as the most advanced equipment and the most-needed resources from around the nation to Hubei, the hardest-hit province.

"What is people first?" Xi rhetorically asked when talking to deputies from Inner Mongolia on the first day of this year's NPC annual gathering on May 22. 

"About 10 medical workers meticulously took care of the patient for dozens of days, and finally saved the patient's life. So many people worked together to save a single patient. This, in essence, embodies doing whatever it takes (to save lives)," Xi said, referring to the case of a 87-year-old COVID-19 patient shared by Dr. Luo Jie, also a deputy from Hubei Province to the 13th NPC.

"We are willing to save lives at all costs. No matter how old the patients are and how serious their conditions have become, we never give up," Xi said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health workers around the world learnt the elderly are the most difficult to treat and require the most sophisticated medical resources. China has given every patient equal treatment irrespective of their age or wealth.

This year's government work report said China's economy posted negative growth in the first quarter of this year, but it was "a price worth paying" to contain COVID-19 and save lives.