IN 2019, I was privileged to visit China and upon my return I wrote one of the articles that the biggest thrill I got while visiting was on the progress the government of that vast country had made to eradicate absolute poverty among its citizens.
I stated then and still do, that the subject of poverty eradication or reduction among citizens is always a critical one and melts my heart for obvious reason
For eight years, from 2012 to 2020, the Cmunist Party of China (CPC) government was targeting to lift the final almost 100 million impoverished rural residents living under the poverty datum-line.
The time I wrote the previous article on the matter, it had remained with exactly one year to the expiry of that deadline on December 31, 2020.
In observance of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC which fell on Thursday last week, I have decided to look at the outcome of that eight-year effort as at the expiry of the deadline last December.
Using the governance system popularly referred to by leaders and nationals as, ‘democratic dictatorship’ China continued rescuing its citizens from the fangs of poverty and its offshoots.
The targeted citizens were part of the 1.4 billion population of that country.
The humongous and most populous nation on earth has transformed itself from a developing country, into a force to reckon with and an economic power engine, second only to the United States.
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China’s eradication of extreme poverty at a national commendation conference in February this year after the expiry of the December-31 deadline.
According to President Xi, during the eight-year period, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line were lifted out of poverty.
All the 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 impoverished villages were removed from the poverty list after being economically-empowered.
With such achievements, China has created another “miracle” that will “go down in history,” President Xi is quoted by the China Global Television Network (CGTN) as having said.
“Shaking off poverty is not the finish line, but the starting point of a new life and new endeavour,” he modestly says.
In eradicating absolute poverty among the last 100 million of its citizens in 2020, the Chinese government has achieved one of the United Nations (UN) Agenda on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), 10 years before 2030 the target.
More than 10 million poor people were lifted out of poverty on average each year since the CPC’s18th National Congress in 2012.
Other reports indicate that at higher level, 770 million rural residents have been saved from poverty since the beginning of reform and opening-up over 40 years ago.
This, according to President Xi, is calculated as per the current poverty datum-line.
The country is said to have totally invested fiscal funds of nearly ¥1.6 trillion (about $246 billion) into poverty alleviation and adopted a targeted poverty alleviation strategy, striving to eradicate poverty through development.
The efforts were, however, not without casualities as more than 1,800 workers lost their lives for the country’s cause of poverty alleviation according to Mr Xi.
In its report, ‘Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution,’ Xinhua news agency reported in April this year that the root cause of poverty is inadequate development.
It further states that as the world’s largest developing country with a population of 1.4 billion, China is aware that development is essential to solving many of its problems, including poverty.
So, 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 has regarded reforms as an important driving force for poverty eradication and worked constantly to remove institutional and structural causes of poverty.
According to my simple research, with a national income per capita of $250 about four decades ago, China had grown the figure to about $10,000 by 2019 but its leaders still modestly consider it as a developing country.
Having visited both the ultramodern cities like Beijing and the least developed ones like Guilin in Guangxi Province in the southern part of the country, I noted that the fight against poverty in that country is real and hence worth emulating.
As indicated previously, by the end of 2020, the government targeted to eliminate extreme poverty among its remaining 16 million citizens and it did.
Generally, between 1981 and 2015, global extreme poverty reduced by one billion people and roughly 74 per cent of those who benefited were in China.
In 1981, about 46 per cent of the world poor people lived in China but that figure declined to 1.4 per cent in 2015.
The government had embarked on elimination of absolute poverty byaccurately targeting poverty alleviation among its poor people.
This means that instead of aiming at tackling poverty among the general populace, the target was on the poorest of the poor in the country.
It was envisaged that by 2020, the targeted poor would have at least food security and clothing, compulsory education as well as basic health and housing facilities.
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