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Targeted poverty alleviation: A historical milestone for China

Bobby Naderi

Farmers picking chrysanthemums at Bozhou City, Anhui Province, east China, October 30, 2023. /CFP
Farmers picking chrysanthemums at Bozhou City, Anhui Province, east China, October 30, 2023. /CFP

Farmers picking chrysanthemums at Bozhou City, Anhui Province, east China, October 30, 2023. /CFP

Editor's note: Bobby Naderi, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is a London-based journalist, guest contributor in print, radio and television, and documentary filmmaker. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In November 2013, during an inspection tour to the central province of Hunan, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Shibadong, an ethnic Miao village labeled "poor" at the time. During that tour, President Xi put forward the concept of "targeted poverty alleviation" for the first time. The edict was a watershed in China's steadfast determination to reduce poverty and improve the living standards of its citizens.

Under the guidance of targeted poverty alleviation, China, the second-biggest economy in the world, successfully eliminated absolute poverty within its borders. What's more, the country actively took part in international efforts to address economic inequality elsewhere, mainly through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that aims to share China's development experiences with the rest of the world through a network of roads, railways, ports, and other infrastructure.

A blueprint for national initiatives

The success of China's poverty alleviation efforts within its borders is evident, particularly in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The poverty alleviation projects have involved the promotion of traditional crafts and growing the cotton and fruit industries. The very fact that the region's overall economic and social development has benefited from these projects is impressive per se.

There has been a notable impact from the expansion of the cotton industry. With the use of cutting-edge machinery, enhanced agricultural techniques, and technological assistance, Xinjiang has become a major contributor to China's cotton production. This accomplishment has contributed to a relatively equal distribution of wealth in its local communities, reducing their dependency on agricultural subsidies.

In addition, the economic empowerment efforts have helped to preserve Xinjiang's rich cultural past while also providing work for local craftspeople. People can now enjoy a better quality of life because of the numerous aspects of this development strategy that includes labor protections, anti-discrimination measures, and social safety nets. However, Xinjiang's change is not just about economic prosperity. The comprehensive approach has also resulted in a safer and more secure environment.

In a similar fashion, targeted poverty alleviation laid the groundwork for a revolutionary approach to fighting poverty in other parts of China. The strategy places a strong emphasis on the necessity of taking deliberate, targeted actions to assist the poorest people and communities. To this end, the government adopted a more customized strategy, taking into account the unique circumstances and demands of each community and family rather than enacting universally applicable laws meant to meet the needs of everyone.

As it happens, the substantial decline in poverty rates nationwide is compelling evidence of the effectiveness of this multifaceted approach. Hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have been brought out of poverty by a range of investments in community programs, such as job training and small business support to stimulate economic growth in disadvantaged areas. In addition to creating a more equitable and just society for all, these initiatives have given people and communities the confidence needed to play a pivotal role in the country's trade development and economic growth.

Performers dance at the
Performers dance at the "Ancient City of Kashgar" scenic area in Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, September 4, 2023. /Xinhua

Performers dance at the "Ancient City of Kashgar" scenic area in Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, September 4, 2023. /Xinhua

International engagement

In 2013, President Xi also unveiled the Belt and Road Initiative, with the aim of enhancing connectivity and economic cooperation between China and the countries along its extensive routes. This enormous infrastructure and economic development project, which spans many countries, comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Beyond building infrastructure, the BRI has become a key player in the global battle against poverty. Through this project, China has given financial opportunities and economic support to a number of struggling countries. The construction of railroads, ports, roadways, and energy infrastructure has boosted the economies of these partner countries by allowing access to new markets and increasing trade and investment opportunities.

The local labor force in these partner nations can now take advantage of new work prospects thanks to China's commitment to educational exchanges, vocational training, and skill development initiatives. As this capacity-building approach equips laborers with the skills needed to secure well-paying jobs, it has proven crucial in enabling people to work in a number of industries, from construction to technology. Especially in the context of digital infrastructure and telecommunications, this approach has empowered diverse individuals to forge stronger communities in addition to achieving high standards of living.

By promoting economic growth, generating jobs, and lowering poverty rates in partner countries, the BRI has shown that international participation can be a potent driver for positive change. As it evolves, the initiative's potential to lead to a further reduction in global poverty rates is still a source of optimism for many governments aiming for a better future for their citizens.

Consider it no small accomplishment. The targeted poverty alleviation policy championed by President Xi is an extraordinary success story that has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. While challenges and concerns, such as income inequality and environmental issues, persist, the country's ability to enhance economic growth and promote social welfare remains impressive.

As China also continues to evolve and expand its constructive role on the world stage, it is clear that there is no turning back for its BRI and responsible governance in international initiatives. With an ongoing commitment to global economic integration, China is poised to maintain its status as an economic powerhouse and a catalyst for global connectivity and integration. This is not just a historical milestone but an ongoing commitment to collective economic development and prosperity.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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