CHINA’S HERCULEAN EFFORT IN ERADICATING POVERTY
Maarij Farooq | Updated 19th March 2021
Poverty is a global issue, which many tried to resolve but failed. Be it Europe or America, no country has succeeded in eradicating poverty. When we listen to eradication of poverty, it seems to be a quip. However, in modern times, China has achieved this unbelievable feat. Yes, you read it right; China has fully taken over poverty, that too within the last 10 years.
China invested nearly 1.1 trillion yuan around $246 billion of fiscal funds into poverty alleviation and adopted targeted alleviation strategy, striving to eradicate poverty through development.
If we look at President XI Jinping’s vision, poverty alleviation has always been on top of his agenda. He, from his core, had a desire of a better life for the Chinese people. He committed himself to realizing the CHINESE DREAM of building a prosperous society in all respects.
In 2012, a goal was set of building a moderately prosperous society as President Xi Jinping launched a campaign against poverty emphasizing “NO SINGLE POOR AREA OR SINGLE PERSON SHOULD BE LEFT BEHIND IN ACHIEVING THIS GOAL”
President Xi, when in 2013 visited Shibadong Village in Hunan province on his inspection tour, the concept of “giving differentiated for the first guidance for targeted poverty alleviation in line with local condition by seeking truth from facts” were introduced for the first time.
99 million people and 832 counties were under the line of poverty. To bring them out of that was not an easy task. The Chinese govt. has spent large amount of money. The total investment from the central, provincial, city and county government reached a total of 1.6 trillion yuan including the 660 billion yuan from the central budget.
It was recorded that by the end of 2020, the country had dispatched 255,000 poverty alleviation resident teams and more the 3 million officials to poor villages. Their task was to monitor the situation and make sure that President Xi’s initiative has been taken care of in a proper manner.
First group of officials were dispatched in 2013 and by 2015, all poor villages residents had resident teams and every poor household a contact official in charge of poverty elimination.
However, this was not an easy task. They had to tackle corruption, which could have derailed the campaign against poverty. Around 337,000 cases of corruption and misconduct from January 2016 to November 2020 were handled. 464,500 people were admonished or assigned to receive education in order to make sure that corruption does not become the new norm. This is because, Chinese think tank were fully aware that corruption can hinder President Xi’s vision of poverty free China. Not only the culprits were educated, 241,300 people received punishments in accordance with party discipline or government regulation. The proportion of misused funds identified by the audit office dropped from 36.3% in 2013 to 1.5% in 2020 as per the National Audit Office.
China’s rapid reduction in poverty went hand in hand with a long period of sustained economic growth. Much of the focus has been on the poorest areas. The government has moved millions from remote villages into apartment complexes. Sometimes these were built in towns and cities, but sometimes-new villages were built.
To make sure that extremely poor people of China get proper households, government launched safe housing projects. Since 2013, a total of 25.68M poor people from 8 million households have had their cottages renovated.
Not just the houses, 99.9% of the people now have the basic medical insurance. 94.8 % completion rate of 9 years compulsory education. By the end of 2020, impoverished areas have gained 1.1 million KM of reconstructed highways and 35,000 KMs of new railways. All the residents had access of electricity by 2015 as by 2020, 83% of the population had tap water coverage. The focus on education was also high on agenda. Since 2013, 108,000 schools were renovated to strengthen the provision of compulsory education in poor areas.
The world bank country director China has acknowledged that China’s eradication of absolute poverty in rural areas has been successful but raised concerns that whether it is sustainable for a longer period of time or not. However, President Xi has himself commented on this issue. He believes that there are further efforts needed to make sure that the wealth is distributed widely. He has also called for officials to make sure that newly created jobs and aid for the poor did not fade away in the coming years.
Some other concerns is for the Chinese government to provide incentives to city occupants to move back to countryside in order to ease pressure on urban areas and revive fading rural areas.
However, instead of finding faults in an unimaginable feat by China, it should be a learning curve for the world and they should set China as an example to follow, in order to eradicate poverty.