Over the past 70 years, China has made notable strides in reducing its poverty stricken population. On this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which falls on Thursday, it is illuminating to look back on how China has come this far in poverty reduction and what its achievements mean to the world.
China has been a world champion on poverty reduction. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, it has lifted over 800 million people out of poverty, which represents over 70 percent of global poverty reduction.
Beijing has also promised to wipe out extreme poverty by 2020, ten years earlier than the deadline set by the United Nations (UN) in its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
A priority of China’s drive to end poverty is to guarantee food self-sufficiency for its 1.4 billion people. To do that, China has worked hard to increase farmland productivity through strategy design and technological innovation, said a white paper titled “Food Security in China” released on Monday.
Official data showed that between 1949 and 2018, China’s annual total grain output rose nearly five times from 113 million tonnes to 658 million, while per capita output more than doubled to 472 kg.
China did not stand still after it has achieved food security. It has continued to improve the livelihood of its people in areas of health, education and women’s empowerment.
China’s poverty elimination experience has proved valuable to other nations that need to solve similar tough issues.
The precise poverty alleviation strategy is China’s main weapon in its war on poverty. With this strategy, China uses flexible policies to meet the needs of various groups of people in different parts of the country.
For example, to reduce poverty facing the elderly, the sick and the disabled, the policy is focused on knitting a stronger social safety net.
Meanwhile, the market has begun to play a vital role. Since 2015, with encouragement from the Chinese government, private enterprises have played a bigger part in numerous social investments to reduce poverty.
While blazing an efficient path for others to draw lessons from, China has promoted international cooperation to benefit more impoverished people.
In late 2018, the UN adopted its first-ever resolution addressing poverty eradication in rural areas, which was put forward by China and the Group of 77.
China has walked its talk by helping other countries slash poverty. It has joined nearly 100 poverty reduction projects in many developing countries, and shared its experience through training and forums, and by building poverty reduction demonstration villages in such developing countries as Laos and Cambodia, according to China’s Progress Report on Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development released last month.
Beijing believes that development is the master key to solving all problems. Since 2013, China has been trying to invite countries worldwide to join its efforts in promoting open, sustainable and people-centred development within the framework of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). Presently, many of the BRI-related projects have begun to bear fruits for local people.
For example, Kenya’s Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, which was built with Chinese funds and know-how and is the largest infrastructure project since the African country’s independence, has created 46,000 local jobs, lowered costs of transportation and boosted regional trade.
It is hard to terminate poverty in a single country, let alone in the world. Yet that does not mean it is impossible. China’s decades of steady achievements and contributions can help others find some useful clues.