A total of 55.64 million Chinese rural residents were lifted out of poverty from 2013 to 2016 and at least another 10 million will shake off poverty this year, which means the number of rural Chinese lifted out of poverty in five years will exceed 65 million – roughly the population of a major European country such as Britain, France or Italy.
The Chinese government defined poverty as having an annual income per capita of less than 2,800 yuan (about 406 US dollars) in 2015 and 3,000 yuan (about 435 US dollars) in 2016, a gradual rise from the 2,300 yuan (about 334 US dollars) poverty line in 2010.
At the end of last year, China's impoverished rural population accounted for 4.5 percent of the total rural population, a drop of 5.7 percentage points from the end of 2012.
With over 700 million rural residents lifted out of poverty since the start of China's reform and opening-up in 1978, the country aims to lift at least 10 million people out of poverty annually over the next three years and eradicate poverty by 2020.
The Chinese leadership has made a solemn promise to lift every poor citizen out of poverty by the end of the decade and lead the Chinese people into an all-round moderately prosperous society.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in November 2012, the Chinese leadership has placed poverty alleviation high on its agenda.
There were still 122 million impoverished people nationwide in 2012 – just eight years from 2020, when China plans to complete the building of an all-round moderately prosperous society.
Villagers prepare woods to construct new houses in Fanyang township of Wuzhishan, south China's Hainan Province on May 1, 2017. /Xinhua Photo
"The most arduous and heaviest task facing China in completing the building of an all-round moderately prosperous society is in the rural areas, especially the poverty-stricken regions," Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said during a tour around impoverished villages in Fuping County, Hebei Province in north China in December 2012.
Four years later, Xi, also the Chinese president, reiterated that fighting poverty was the fundamental task in building an all-round moderately prosperous society during another visit to poor villages.
"I care about the poor the most," he said in his New Year speech for 2017.
During the past four and a half years, Xi paid more than 30 visits to different regions across the country and mentioned poverty relief in almost every visit, getting firsthand information on the situation of poor people and encouraging them to shake off poverty in various ways.
Xi Jinping (C), general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, visits the family of Tang Zongxiu (R), an impoverished villager in the Luotuowan Village of Longquanguan Township, Fuping County in north China's Hebei Province on December 30, 2012. /Xinhua Photo
To fulfill the solemn promise, the State Council of China released a poverty alleviation plan for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) last December, saying that China will take precise, targeted and differentiated measures to ensure effective poverty relief.
Special funds on poverty reduction have been increasing every year. In 2016 alone, the central government and provincial authorities spent more than 100 billion yuan (about 14.5 billion US dollars) on poverty reduction and dispatched 128,000 task forces and over 540,000 officials to combat poverty in poor villages.
Cui Jiutai, a villager in Donggang District, Rizhao in east China's Shandong Province, looks at his rooster which he hopes to sell at a good price on January 16, 2017. /VCG Photo
National Poverty Alleviation Day
China's commitment to eradicating poverty has also been manifested by the launch of an annual National Poverty Alleviation Day in 2014.
October 17, 2017 will mark the fourth National Poverty Alleviation Day of China and the 25th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
China will hold a number of special events around the date, including the Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum and some activities to review China's efforts and achievements in poverty relief in recent years, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development announced on Monday.