– When Xi Jinping became China’s first leader in 2012, he inherited a mission that China had strived to accomplish for generations, which is to eradicate absolute poverty.
– The whole system was mobilized to help the poor rural population, with more than 250,000 teams dispatched to provide support on the ground and more than 3 million people sent to the countryside as special commissioners for the fight against poverty.
– “In eight years, by the current standard, China has eradicated the extreme poverty of the nearly 100 million affected rural people,” Xi said in the New Year’s speech which rang in 2021.
by Xinhua writer Xu Zeyu
BEIJING, Feb.23 (Xinhua) – Poverty has plagued China for thousands of years. Through generations of struggle after the founding of New China in 1949, the country had lifted 700 million people out of scarcity by the end of 2012.
At that time, China still had nearly 100 million people living below the poverty line, a ninth of the world total. About 100,000 villages had not yet been connected by paved roads; some 4,000 villages did not have access to electricity; and 8.3 percent of the country’s rural households lived in dilapidated, thatched mud huts.
In November 2012, Xi Jinping became China’s top leader, and he inherited a mission that China had strived to accomplish for generations, which is to eradicate absolute poverty. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) aimed to achieve the goal by the end of 2020.
“To achieve this goal, China must lift 10 million people out of poverty every year,” said Eduardo Regalado, senior researcher at Cuba’s Center for International Policy Research. “That is 20 people every minute.”
TARGETED POVERTY ALLEVIATION
At the end of 2012, Xi braved the terrible winter temperatures to visit the villages of Luotuowan and Gujiatai, impoverished places deep in the Taihang Mountains of Hebei Province. It was the first in a myriad of inspection tours plunging into the underdeveloped regions of the country for Xi as the main Chinese leader.
Speaking with the villagers, Xi was particularly concerned about the difficulties they faced in their daily lives, such as issues regarding their income, food, education and medical care.
The austere living conditions were astounding. While similar hardships still haunted tens of millions of poor people in rural areas, Xi knew there was no time to waste.
As the entire nation held its breath as it awaited its response, Xi’s commitment to this seemingly insurmountable task was never in question. He knew what it was like to be hungry.
“Meat wouldn’t eat our tables for months at a time,” Xi once said, referring to the time he was sent to Liangjiahe village in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province in as a farmer about five decades ago. “How I wished to treat my fellow villagers to meat at least once.”
From a junior local official to the top Chinese leader, Xi always held his wish to heart. Making sure that the rural poor improve their lot has always been his motivation.
Reviewing the bigger picture, Xi determined that China has entered the most difficult phase of poverty reduction and that the root cause of every household’s misery must be identified before any approaches are taken. targeted can be formulated.
It was during a visit to the village of Shibadong in Hunan province that he proposed a targeted approach to fight poverty.
“We must seek the facts from the truth; the directions and development must reflect local conditions,” Xi said. “That’s what I mean by targeted poverty reduction.”
In an effort to meticulously tackle impoverishment in various locations, authorities must have a full understanding of conditions on the ground. Therefore, China has launched an unprecedented project to compile a database of every underprivileged citizen.
Within 18 months, the country had a comprehensive national registry of its poor population. It is the first time in history that a comprehensive poverty database has been established.
“Precise poverty targeting helps the government target the remaining poor in the last mile,” said Jim Yong Kim, former president of the World Bank.
“THE COMMITMENT OF A SOLDIER”
In November 2015, Xi led a conference on poverty reduction and development, the largest of its kind ever.
The heads of 22 provincial-level regions in central and western China have signed accountability pledges to eradicate poverty from their jurisdiction in time, said Liu Yongfu, former director of the Board of Directors’ Steering Group Office. State for Poverty Reduction and Development.
“Xi Jinping made a pledge of responsibility at the meeting, and said it was just like a ‘soldier’s pledge’ and that we must keep our word,” Liu recalled in an interview. “If the tasks were not completed on time, the signer would be held responsible,” Xi said.
Xi didn’t have anything to fall back on either.
The whole system has been mobilized to help the poor rural population, with more than 250,000 teams dispatched to provide support on the ground and more than 3 million people sent into the countryside as special commissioners in the fight against poverty. While making transcendent changes to those in desperate need of help, 1,800 of them lost their lives in the line of duty.
To uncover the root causes of underdevelopment and advise on solutions, Xi continued tirelessly with inspection visits, visiting some of the poorest places in China.
Before the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2018, Xi drove 2,200 km from Beijing to Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province to examine community relocation plans. Eleven of the prefecture’s 17 counties have been identified as key locations for the state’s poverty reduction work.
“Not a single ethnic group, family or person should be left behind,” Xi said.
Locked in rugged and ruthless mountainous terrain, the village of Atulie’er in Liangshan, known as the “Cliff Village”, was emblematic of the country’s difficulty in meeting its non-poverty pledge.
Due to the isolated location of the village, perched precariously with almost vertical cliffs above and below, the villagers had to use a series of hand-made ladders to climb the 800-meter-high cliff.
“I saw that the children had to climb the unstable ladders of the vine on the cliff without any safety measures. It made my heart feel heavy and worried, ”Xi said.
Two years later, the 344 former residents of the cliff village left the village in the clouds and settled on safer ground.
Bidding farewell to their old homes, the villagers moved into brand new apartments. The children resumed their studies in bright classrooms, without having to climb formidable cliffs on the way to class.
The village has since welcomed more than 100,000 visitors each year, generating substantial income for the inhabitants. While tourism becomes a pillar industry of the local economy, the shortage is resigned to history.
By the end of 2019, China’s underprivileged rural population had fallen to 5.51 million. The end of poverty was at hand.
“It is difficult to remember or identify a parallel achievement,” said Guy Ryder, director general of the International Labor Organization.
SPRINTING THE LAST THOUSAND
In early 2020, the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to the economy of China and the world.
“For the first time in thirty years, poverty is increasing,” said Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General.
While most people thought that China’s goal of lifting all of its people out of poverty by 2020 would take a back seat, Xi took a more difficult path.
In March 2020, Xi chaired an unusual symposium attended by officials ranging from national leaders to local officials.
Xi stressed that lifting all rural dwellers living below the current poverty line out of poverty by 2020 was a solemn promise made by the CPC Central Committee, and must be fulfilled on time.
“There were only 300 days left, and Xi said this meeting should take place as soon as possible for another round of deployment and mobilization,” said Chen Songbai, deputy party leader of Zhaojue County, Zhaojue Province. Sichuan. “He had a very serious look on his face when he said it.”
Although tax revenues were at a low ebb in 2020, Xi stressed that financing is essential for reducing poverty.
Instead of reducing investments, the central government’s special fund for poverty reduction reached 146.1 billion yuan (about $ 22.4 billion). There was also a one-time additional injection of 30 billion yuan.
Xi’s decision recharged the campaign, and the whole of society played its part. Once again, the poor knew they would not be left behind under any circumstances.
Over the past eight years, the rural landscape has been completely reshaped. More than 9.6 million people suffering from insurmountable deprivation have been relocated from uninhabitable areas. All the villages in the country are connected to the network of paved roads. Each rural household is connected to the electricity grid. More than 100,000 rural schools have been renovated or rebuilt, giving tens of thousands of children in rural areas a chance for another future.
On the road to zero poverty, Xi made plans and decisions that changed the lot of millions of Chinese families for the better. The path was littered with bumps and holes, but it retained its original motivation.
“In eight years, by the current standard, China has eradicated the extreme poverty of the nearly 100 million affected rural people,” Xi said in the New Year’s speech which rang in 2021.
China has ended the poverty that has plagued the country for thousands of years, but it is simply another beginning – the beginning of more miracles yet to be performed, and a path to an even brighter future.
(Video reporters: Rao Liwen, Wu Di, Hou Xuejing, Shen Cheng, Xue Chen, Mu Yu, Gao Bo, Han Fangfang, Tao Liang, Kong Zhangyan, Ming Dajun, Guo Xinhui, Bai Xu, Yue Dongxing, Mao Pengfei, Gao Bingnan, Du Yang, Ling Xin, Zhu Wanjun, Zhu Xiaoguang, Yang Yi)
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