Tongren seeks to reduce poverty with Suzhou's help

Updated: 2014-03-10 08:15

By Luo Wangshu (China Daily)

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Suzhou is offering aid to improve education and promote tourism in Tongren, Guizhou province, to help the city fight poverty.

Suzhou, a coastal city in east Jiangsu province, allocated 8 million yuan ($1.3 million) to build a vocational school in Tongren last year. The local financial department raised the remaining 20 million yuan needed to build the school.

"If one member of a poor family is able to find a job, the family has a greater possibility to be lifted from poverty," said Xia Qingfeng, mayor of Tongren and a deputy to the National People's Congress.

The Wanshan Vocational School will enroll 5,000 students per year and train them in automobile mechanics, Xia said.

Suzhou will also send professionals to manage the school. Zhang Qi, deputy secretary-general of Suzhou, said an experienced educator from Suzhou will run the school.

Suzhou has also provided personnel training to professionals and officials in Tongren. Four hundred officials from the city were trained in Suzhou in 2013, and another 400 will participate in the training program in 2014, Zhang said.

Besides improving education, Tongren is also promoting its tourism industry in Suzhou.

"It is easy to spot Tongren tourism promotional material on every corner in Suzhou," Zhang said.

From 2013 to 2015, Suzhou is offering 30 million yuan per year to Tongren in infrastructure and personnel training aid.

The partnership is part of a State poverty alleviation project. In February 2013, the State Council asked eight coastal cities to aid a city in Guizhou.

Tongren seeks to reduce poverty with Suzhou's help

Guizhou is one of China's least-developed provinces. Under the national standard for poverty alleviation, people with an annual income of 2,300 yuan or less are classified as "destitute".

Tongren has a population of 927,000 people, and 21.6 percent of them are listed as destitute.

Guizhou lifted nearly 1.7 million people out of poverty in 2013, as GDP growth reached 12.7 percent, according to the provincial government.

Liu Shuwen, deputy director of international cooperation for the State Council's Poverty Alleviation Leading Group Office, said countries such as Vietnam have followed similar programs, but no country has done it as well as China.

Suzhou is also benefiting from its cooperation with Tongren.

"We see it as more than just offering aid," Zhang from Suzhou said, adding that Suzhou companies can expand their enterprises in the southwest, using Tongren as a platform.

In 2013, 12 Suzhou companies invested a total of 5 billion yuan in Tongren, according to Zhang.

The poverty alleviation issue has attracted the State's attention.

During the National People's Congress, President Xi Jinping visited Guizhou delegates and discussed anti-poverty issues with deputies on Friday.