China Vows to Eliminate Poverty by 2020

November 29, 2015
Editor: Mable Wang

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks in a meeting on poverty relief in Beijing, capital of China. [Xinhua/Ju Peng]

China's top leadership on November 28 pledged resolute measures to help the remaining 70 million poor people shake off poverty and enjoy essential social services by 2020.

Major tasks for governments over the next five years will include ensuring the poverty-stricken people to have enough to eat and wear, and to enjoy compulsory education, health service and housing, according to a two-day high-profile conference on poverty alleviation and development, which ended Saturday in Beijing.

Identifying poverty alleviation still "an arduous task," President Xi Jinping told the conference that "no single poor region nor an individual living in poverty will be left behind" when the country accomplishes the goal of "building a moderately prosperous society" by 2020.

Xi urged governments at all levels to carry out more targeted and precise measures to ensure the poor people in rural areas have access to food, clothes, basic education, medical care, and safe home. Per-capita disposable income of farmers in poor areas should grow in a pace faster than the national average, and basic public services for the areas should almost be up to the national average criteria.

Local governments and officials, particularly those of underdeveloped regions, should make poverty alleviation the top priority in the next five years' work, Xi demanded.

Priority should be given to the improvement of rural infrastructure, including roads, access to water, power and Internet, Premier Li Keqiang said during the conference.

The conference laid out concrete and diversified measures in poverty relief.

Industrial development is key to poverty alleviation, Xi said. Local resources should be well utilized to develop industries and ensure employment for the jobless peasants.

Relocation is also highlighted. Premier Li urged to lift about 10 million people out of poverty by 2020 through relocation, and local governments should make sure the relocated people have stable jobs to make a living.

Ecological protection should be enhanced in poor areas, and the poor with labor abilities could be trained to serve as forest rangers and other workers for ecological conservation, Xi said.

The conference also demanded national expenditure on education should be expanded in poor areas, and special care should be given to left-behind children.

Tuition fees and relevant expenditures should be waived for senior high school students from poor families, and major universities should recruit more students from poor areas.

Social welfare system should provide basic living conditions for those impoverished without working abilities, Xi said.

Fiscal expenditure will be increased on poverty relief, and private investment as well as people from all walks of life are all encouraged to join the battle against poverty, Xi said.

Preferential tax policies, loan interest subsidies, and other kinds of favorable financial incentives will be provided to encourage financial institutions to offer more innovative products for poverty alleviation.

Over the past three decades some 700 million rural residents across China shook off poverty. China was the first developing country to meet the Millennium Development Goals target of reducing the population living in poverty by half ahead of the 2015 deadline.

China's experience in poverty alleviation could be used in helping the world complete the poverty reduction target through cooperation with other nations and foreign aid, analysts said.

At the end of last year, China still had 70.17 million people in the countryside living below its poverty line of 2,300 yuan (U.S.$376) in annual income by 2010 price standards.

The conference was attended by senior leaders of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the central government, and major provincial-level officials. It was the first such high-level meeting held after the Fifth Plenum of 18th CPC Central Committee, which had promised to root out poverty by 2020.

Officials from all relevant departments at different levels were asked to sign a responsibility statement to pledge that they will complete poverty alleviation targets or face punishment if they fail.

Local governments will face strict annual assessment of their performance in poverty elimination and punishment will be meted out to those that embezzle money earmarked to fight poverty.

(Source: Xinhua)

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