China Creates a World Miracle in Poverty Reduction
Before I came to Canada for my posting in 2019, many friends recommended Arxan to me, which is a small city in the foothills of Greater Khingan Range in north China. They told me that the scenery there was as beautiful as that of Banff in Canadian Rockies and was quite worth a visit. It is a pity that I was unable to make a trip due to a tight schedule.
After I arrived in Canada, I looked up some materials about Arxan out of curiosity and found this small city was indeed unusual with beautiful lakes, forests and snowcapped mountains, as well as vast grasslands and the largest group of hot springs in the world. Unlike Banff, Arxan had remained a key national-level poverty-stricken county by 2011. There was no adequate food or clothing for locals, let alone any tourism industry. Thanks to the national strategy of poverty alleviation through tourism development, the tourism industry in Arxan was promoted, helping the poor people blaze a trail full of hope featuring “tourism plus poverty alleviation”. The tourism revenue of Arxan reached 5.27 billion yuan (about $813.16 million) in 2018, increasing by 280 percent compared to 2013. In 2019, Arxan was officially removed from the list of national-level poverty-stricken counties.
Arxan is merely an epitome of the miraculous poverty alleviation of China. Over the past 70 years, the Chinese government has lifted 850 million people out of poverty. During the four decades of reform and opening-up alone, 750 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese government has given top priority to the battle against poverty in its governance and organized the world’s biggest and toughest poverty-relief battle in human history. Since 2012, an average of more than ten million people, equivalent to the population of a medium-sized European country, had been lifted out of poverty each year. In November 2020, China accomplished its poverty alleviation target of the new era on schedule, with all 832 poor counties removed from poverty, eradicating absolute poverty and overall regional poverty, and achieving the poverty reduction target of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule.
China takes “targeted poverty alleviation” as a basic strategy, which is also a key feature of its poverty alleviation effort. The poverty alleviation plans are tailored to different groups of people, which include increasing production, relocating the poor, ecological compensation, strengthening education, improving social security, etc. China has also introduced a list of top 10 poverty alleviation projects such as poverty alleviation through e-commerce, tourism, and photovoltaic power generation projects. With such policies, China’s poverty elimination actions have benefited a wide range of Chinese people including minorities. By the end of 2019, over 2.92 million people in northwest China’s Xinjiang autonomous region have shaken off poverty. In Xizang autonomous region in southwest China, all 74 poor counties have been removed from the poverty list, and the net income per year per capita increased from 1,499 yuan at the end of 2015 to 9,328 yuan in 2019, which means eliminating absolute poverty in history for the first time. In Guangxi autonomous region in southwest China, a provincial-level region with the largest population of minorities in China, all the 54 poor counties have been removed from the poverty list, and all the people of the Zhuang ethnic group have been lifted from poverty.
China has made great contributions to the world poverty alleviation process. China has the highest number of people moving out of poverty worldwide, accounting for over 70 percent of the global poverty alleviation effort. Besides, it established the China-UN Peace and Development Fund, South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, and made solid progress in cooperation projects under such frameworks as the Pilot Project of Poverty Reduction Cooperation in East Asia and the China-Africa Poverty Reduction and People’s Welfare Plan. China has helped establish 24 agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa, benefiting more than 500,000 local people.
Poverty eradication is a challenge for all and the top priority of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the world population living in extreme poverty will exceed 1 billion by 2030 due to the COVID-19. Thus, realizing global poverty eradication is still an ongoing battle. China and Canada have a lot to share in eradicating poverty, promoting gender equality and tackling climate change. It is our common aspiration to pursue a better life. Let’s join hands to make greater contributions to world poverty alleviation and strive for a better future for mankind.