Written by: Ms. Hafsa Akram, Research Fellow, PRCCSF.
China has secured a complete victory in the battle against extreme poverty, eliminating overall extreme poverty for the first time in its history of thousands of years and realizing a century-long aspiration of the Chinese people. The achievement is truly a miracle in all respects. Throughout human history, no other country has ever lifted millions of people out of extreme poverty within such a short time. Eradicating extreme poverty was a crucial mission of the CPC. It was moderately prosperous in all respects and contains a sweeping set of goals ranging from poverty reduction to economic growth and environmental protection. The battle against poverty has been another great revolution in rural China, leading to historic and comprehensive changes. The campaign saw an end to the backwardness of poverty-stricken areas, boosted overall rural development, and resolved the greatest threat to success in achieving moderate prosperity.
Factors Contributing to Poverty Alleviation:
Millions of people in rural areas who were living below the poverty threshold were all shook off poverty. The two main factors that have contributed to poverty alleviation in China were as follows: One was based on economic transformation, which has provided new development opportunities for the poor and continuously raised their income. The other was the targeted policies of the government to eliminate long-term poverty. These two factors have been highly effective in combating poverty. The CPC has always regarded this as the top priority in governing and rejuvenating the country. It has concentrated its efforts, in particular on the economy, to address the problem of unbalanced and inadequate development. Through development, the economy has been growing rapidly, and the country has enjoyed a long period of social stability.
China’s experience with poverty alleviation has proven that development is the most effective way to eradicate poverty and the most reliable path toward a more prosperous life. Only development can lead to economic growth, social progress, and higher living standards. Only development can better guarantee people’s basic rights and meet their desire for a better life. Since the foundation of the new China, its poverty relief has experienced six stages: relief-type poverty alleviation (1949–1977); structural reform promoted poverty relief (1978–1985); development-oriented poverty relief drive (1986–1993); tackling critical problems in poverty relief (1994–2000); consolidation-oriented comprehensive poverty alleviation (2001–2012); and targeted poverty alleviation (2013–2020). The country’s experience with poverty reduction demonstrates the superiority of China’s system led by CPC leadership, financial investment, and targeted poverty alleviation.
Effective Measures for Poverty Eradication:
China has adopted categorized and targeted measures to reduce poverty based on the situation of individual households, local conditions, and the causes and types of poverty. These targeted measures include: building the economy to provide more job opportunities; relocating poor people from inhospitable areas; compensating for economic losses associated with reducing environmental damage; improving education in poor areas; and providing subsistence allowances for those unable to escape poverty. China has made efforts to improve health care services for the poor and considers it an important part of poverty alleviation to prevent the poor from sinking back into poverty due to illness. China launched a project to connect poor areas to the Internet and introduced the Internet+ model to alleviate poverty in poor areas.
China chose to target the problem of poverty by centring its policies on human development and the promotion of ecological civilization, rural revitalization, and rural-urban integration. The most distinctive feature of China’s poverty reduction practice is the state’s director of the social economy. This contrasts sharply with the neoliberal development framework and is endemic to China’s development experience. The Chinese government has invested significant human and financial resources in poverty reduction initiatives and has made the fight against hunger and poverty a priority task. Poverty reduction is promoted as a national strategy. Strong leadership at all levels of government enables concerted and continuous efforts to alleviate poverty. On February 25, 2021, at the National Poverty Alleviation Summary and Commendation Conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that China had won the war against poverty and had eliminated extreme poverty. These historic achievements have been made through concerted efforts and targeted measures by President Xi Jinping aimed at promoting socio-economic development in poverty-stricken regions.
The country met the poverty eradication target set out in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China’s fight against poverty entered a critical stage after the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. China has put in unimaginable efforts and has relied on itself to eradicate extreme poverty and marches toward shared all-around prosperity. Over 98% of poor villages have access to optical fibre communications (OFC) and 4G technology. Distance education is available at more schools in impoverished areas; telemedicine and e-commerce cover all designated poor counties. The fight against poverty is a successful exercise in the modernization of China’s system and capacity for governance. The eradication of absolute poverty in China also demonstrates the concept of inclusive development. The success of China in this battle has improved poverty governance and significantly improved its system and capacity for grassroots social governance in impoverished areas.
China has adopted a multi-sectoral approach to fighting poverty. It has made remarkable progress in improving schools, healthcare, infrastructure, and the natural environment. These impressive steps were achieved mainly due to strong leadership, good governance, and dedication on the part of government officials and local people. Rapid economic and social development, a significant increase in comprehensive national strength, an improved social security system, and progress in modernization have supported its poverty alleviation efforts. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the Chinese people have achieved economic prosperity, national rejuvenation, and a better life.