The secrets to China's anti-poverty success
Updated 15:02, 13-Mar-2023
Li Xin

Editor's note: China lifted nearly 100 million people out of absolute poverty, ten years ahead of the schedule of the UN 2030 Agenda. Now the mission is to guarantee no massive return to poverty. How can China make it? And how can China's anti-poverty experiences be copied elsewhere in the world? In China Talk, Li Xin, deputy director-general of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China shares her view.The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Hello and welcome to China Talk. I am Li Xin, the deputy director-general of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China, abbreviated as IPRCC. Our center was set up as an international platform for research, training, exchange and cooperation on poverty reduction back in 2005. Every year, we hold many events with colleagues and friends from developing countries to share experiences and carry out cooperation.

In February 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China's complete success in eradicating absolute poverty by the end of 2020, achieving the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ten years ahead of schedule. As a member of IPRCC, I was often asked about China's anti-poverty experiences on various international occasions. Today, I would like to share some of my observations.

The first question I was often asked is: What is China's poverty standard? Is it high or low?

Since the fight against poverty which began in 2012, the identification and lifting of the poor in China has been based on households, and the measurement standards are "one income line" and "two no worries and three guarantees."

"One income line" refers to the fact that the annual per capita net income steadily exceeds the current national poverty alleviation standard, which is 2,300 yuan per person per year at the 2010 constant price level. That is around 4,000 yuan or $570, at current prices.

"Two worry-frees and three guarantees" means to achieve stability without worrying about food, clothing, compulsory education, basic medical care and safe housing, plus safe drinking water.

So we can tell that the measure for lifting the poor in China is a comprehensive multi-dimensional criterion, including not only an income line but also the realization of the right to survive and to develop. On the whole, it is higher than the absolute poverty line of the "2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" set by the UN in 2015, reflecting China's actual economic and social development.

And now comes to the second question: What did China do to eliminate poverty over entire regions and eradicate extreme poverty?

In China, we have a nationwide database to identify people in need. Poor households were identified primarily based on their incomes, with consideration given to other factors such as housing, education and health. Then they are registered and a file is created in the national poverty alleviation information database. For this system, it will continue to work as the country works on preventing a falling back to poverty.

This 70-year-old man is Ma Yongchang. He is a farmer in Fengchi Village, Linfen City, in China's central Shanxi Province. In October 2021, a strong autumn flood hit his hometown. Ma Yongchang, along with over 400 thousand people, was affected badly. His family's only house was severely damaged. According to the policy, his family was included in the dynamic monitoring to prevent a return to poverty.

Ma's family got help and their new house was built in about forty days. As you can see, he and his wife soon moved to a new house.

China has the political will from the top and the ability to mobilize grassroots officials to help the poor. Can China's anti-poverty model be copied elsewhere? As a member of IPRCC, that is one of the questions that I am most frequently asked.

China's poverty reduction cooperation projects with ASEAN countries have turned out to be successful. We help establish a production team in Laos to carry out activities, like cattle and poultry farming, corn and vegetable planting, weaving, and rural tourism. In Cambodia, we help carry out plans to increase income, which includes vegetable planting, cattle raising, and mushroom production. A poverty alleviation workshop to produce detergent is also set up for the locals in Cambodia. In Myanmar, we set up demonstration zones to show farmers how to better plant rice, sesame, peanuts and other crops, and help villagers find jobs in town after work skill training .

These pilot projects enable the villagers to learn technology, increase income, fire up motivation, and enhance self-development abilities.

Of course, it's worth noting that each country has its distinctive national conditions. Directly copying other countries' anti-poverty experiences may not work. It's a time-tested practice that all policies must adapt to the country's own national conditions.

If poverty is an economic phenomenon, then poverty alleviation has distinct political attributes. In the next step, we will continue to support the people who have been lifted out of poverty, ensure the steady and continuous growth of their income and move toward the goal of gradually achieving common prosperity shared by all people.

I'll stop here and thank you!

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