A Photo Finish

ByZhang Lei October 26, 2020

China's seventh National Poverty Relief Day fell on Oct 17, a date that was also observed globally as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects is now in its final stage, and is a critical step on the path toward realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

Most areas across China have already succeeded in attaining relative prosperity and the few remaining impoverished areas have stepped up poverty alleviation efforts in a bid to join them.

After the onset of the COVID-19, President Xi Jinping gave instructions to ensure that not a single person gets left behind in the transition to a moderately prosperous society. Winning the battle against poverty is a key task in achieving that.

Noting that there are still some areas of weakness in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects that need to be strengthened with prompt action, China calls for targeted measures to do away with them.

Criterion for a moderately prosperous society in all respects should include not only quantitative indicators but also careful assessment of people's actual living standards and sense of fulfillment.

Stressing the need to identify and take stock of the prominent weaknesses and tasks that must be overcome, the focus should be on those below the poverty line who are old, weak, ill and disabled, as well as regions mired in extreme poverty. Additionally, environmental protection, public services and infrastructure should be targeted in areas where weaknesses are identified.

The concept of a moderately prosperous society in all respects bridges ancient and modern wisdom as China plans to achieve the standard this year.

Since China launched its reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, the country has carried out largescale poverty alleviation, embarking on the most spectacular poverty reduction campaign in human history. According to World Bank figures, 850 million people have been lifted out of poverty since the reform and opening-up began. After seven years of targeted efforts, the number of poverty-stricken counties in China dropped from 832 to 52 as of the end of 2019.

The poverty-stricken population dropped from 98.99 million at the end of 2012 to 5.51 million at the end of 2019, representing a drop in the poverty rate of the population from 10.2 percent to 0.6 percent over the same period.

China has defined extreme poverty as having a per capita income of less than 2,300 yuan ($344) a year.

The poverty line, set in 2011 and adjusted annually with inflation, reached more than 4,000 yuan this year. The amount varies from place to place due to purchasing power parity.

The authorities have also made efforts to achieve universal coverage of compulsory education, affordable healthcare and access to clean drinking water in less affluent rural regions.

Meanwhile, as of June this year, residents in 98 percent of China's impoverished villages now have access to the internet through fiberoptic cables, up from less than 70 percent in 2017, according to a report on China's internet development.

This achievement marks the early realization of the goal set for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) of delivering broadband coverage to more than 90 percent of poor villages, the report, issued by the China Internet Network Information Center, notes.

The report also showed that the internet penetration rate in rural areas has reached 52.3 percent, up by 6.1 percent from March, further narrowing the urban-rural digital gap.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that China has made the greatest contribution to world poverty alleviation over the past decade.

By ending domestic poverty by the end of this year, China will achieve the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in poverty relief 10 years ahead of schedule.

The central government has laid out its ambitious new long-term goals of "basically achieving socialist modernization" by 2035 and becoming a "great modern socialist nation" that is "prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful" by 2050.

China Daily has employed the awareness of its brand "100 Photographers Focus" to record the recent progress in the struggle to eliminate poverty and people's lives in various areas. The more than 300 photos for this album were selected from among thousands of contributions, a second selection of which can be seen here. This picture book illustrates how hard the struggle has been and is also a gift to celebrate the momentous achievement.

 

(Source: China Daily)

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