Xi's 'no retreat until complete victory' spirit wins China the war against poverty

Chinese President Xi Jinping officially declared the country's victory in extreme poverty eradication in his speech at a national commendation conference in Beijing on Thursday, saying all people in rural areas have shaken off absolute poverty, a great stride towards Xiaokang: a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

The milestone was achieved by lifting nearly 100 million rural people in 832 impoverished counties out of poverty since 2013.

Xi has attached great importance to poverty alleviation. Since he was elected as the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in 2012, he has traveled to 14 contiguous areas of dire poverty in China and inspected 24 impoverished villages.

In 2013, Xi traveled to Dongxiang Autonomous County in northwest China's Gansu Province. The county is the first ethnic minority autonomous county he inspected after he took office.

In Bulenggou Village, people used to live in extreme poverty. They didn't have running water and relied on cellars to store drinking water. Villagers say the water in the cellars wasn't enough, so they had to carry water from a river that is 20 kilometers away from the village, which took them four hours back and forth.

Ma Zhongcheng, a villager, recalled that when Xi came to the village, he asked local people about their livelihood, such as income and drinking water. He also asked villagers whether they benefited from poverty alleviation policies. Xi encouraged them by saying, "the good days are coming soon."

A photo of Bulenggou Village, Dongxiang County, Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province in 2013 and in 2019. /CFP

A photo of Bulenggou Village, Dongxiang County, Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province in 2013 and in 2019. /CFP

No retreat until complete victory

A year later, Xi brought up the strategy of "Targeted Poverty Alleviation," which allows the government and local officials to address the needs of individuals and households rather than entire villages. Local officials use data from a local registration system to identify and provide support to poverty-stricken families.

In 2015, the central government set the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by the end of 2020. By late 2019, over 90 percent of the poorest counties in China had shaken off absolute poverty, making the last 52 impoverished counties the final battleground in the fight against absolute poverty.

"What left are the poorest, the most vulnerable. All are the most challenging cases. We must be fully determined and equipped to tackle these difficulties," Xi said at the second session of the 13th National People's Congress in 2019, adding, "there should be no retreat until a complete victory is won."

Ma Yijile, a villager in Dongxiang Autonomous County, which was among the 52 counties, said that he signed up for the poverty list in 2013, and a year later, coordinated by the government, he got a loan of 20,000 yuan from the local bank and bought 20 sheep. The number of sheep doubled a year later, and he paid off the loan.

From 2015, he successively got two interest-free loans from the local bank, and in August last year, he established a breeding company with eight cows and more than 70 sheep, which eventually lifted his family out of poverty.

In November last year, Dongxiang County, together with seven other counties in the province, were authorized to declare a victory against extreme poverty after extensive inspections. A day later, nine counties in Guizhou made a similar announcement, marking China eventually wins the war against extreme poverty.

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