'Credit system' program helps alleviate poverty in central China
By Li Jianhua
This is a special day for 50-year-old Tian Guoqin, who lives in a village in central China's Henan Province. Once a month, she comes to pick up some daily necessities for free in the supermarket established by the local government for local residents living in poverty.
Tian told CGTN that she fell into poverty due to breast cancer last year.
The "credit system" was initiated by the local government in 2018 to motivate locals to fight poverty. By attending a range of activities, including community service and study sessions, the locals are rewarded with "credits," with which they can purchase commodities in designated supermarkets, according to Tian.
"The government started this program in April this year. I can get credits by helping others, doing community service and helping village officials run some errands. Anything considered positive can get me more credits," said Tian.
A year after the breast cancer operation, Tian was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which she said is devastating to her family. But this time, the government is helping pay the bills.
"In order to help those who fall into poverty because of illness, the government has put forward some measures to make sure each individual gets help. The government will reimburse them - they only have to pay a tiny part of the bill," said Zhang Haibo, Party Secretary of Wagang Village.
China to eradicate poverty by 2020
Chinese President Xi Jinping made the campaign one of his signature policy issues after pledging in 2015 that China would lift nearly 70 million people out of poverty by 2020.
In addition, Chinese authorities in August released a guideline on the country's poverty alleviation efforts in the run up to 2020.
Some priorities have been listed on top of the agenda – the impoverished population should be able to get access to food, clothing, basic medical needs, and nine-year education.
People whose annual income is lower than 2,300 yuan (about 338 US dollars) are considered living below the national poverty line.
By that standard, another 30 million Chinese are set to be lifted out of poverty by 2020, according to China's Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development under the State Council.
"The country is placing an unprecedented amount of effort on alleviating poverty," Liu Yongfu, head of the government's Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development in 2017. "With the active participation of all parts of society, it can be said that the battle against poverty has achieved significant results."
The Chinese central government spent 86 billion yuan (about 12.6 billion US dollars) on poverty alleviation in 2017, which is 30 percent more than the year before, according to the Ministry of Finance. And direct spending by central and local governments on the cause - between 2013 and 2017 - amounts to 461.2 billion yuan.
The funds have reportedly been used for infrastructure projects, as well as subsidies for education, health care and rural agriculture.
President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, went on record as saying China's achievement in lifting 800 million people out of poverty since the 1990s was "one of the great stories in human history."
"[Nonetheless], sustainability is considered one of the challenges – the people lifted out of the poverty may fall into it again due to various reasons," said an anonymous Chinese official to CGTN.