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China is running a winning race against its poverty

By Zhao Huanxin | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-01-03 11:46

As China rings in the New Year, it is racing against the clock to fulfill a promise that its leadership has proclaimed to the world: getting at least 10 million impoverished rural residents out of their situation, which translates to nearly 1 million people per month, or 20 every minute.

There were 43.35 million Chinese living below the national poverty line of 2,300 yuan ($354) in annual income at the end of 2016. The country has pledged to eliminate poverty by 2020, so that would mean ending poverty for about 10 million people a year.

There are plenty of numbers and while some can be mind-numbing, they can also be heart-warming in the news they convey.

Take a line from a poem evoked by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday in his New Year Address.

"How I wish I could have 10,000 houses to provide shelter for all who need it," the president said, quoting Chinese poet Du Fu from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and adding that in 2017, 3.4 million people were relocated from poverty-stricken areas and now live in warm new housing.

In the speech, the president reiterated that lifting all of China's rural impoverished population out of poverty by current standards is a solemn commitment that will be honored. "After three years, we will win the final phase of the war on poverty. This will be the first time in thousands of years of Chinese history that extreme poverty has been eliminated," Xi said.

Poverty reduction was also a theme of Xi's speech at the landmark 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Oct 18, and one of the top tasks assigned for the coming three years at a central economic work conference last month.

In China, the government's role in poverty relief is most evident in mapping out national poverty reduction programs.

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