Internet helping Guizhou lift millions out of poverty

Updated: 2016-01-12 21:54

By Yang Jun and Yang Jie(

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Internet helping Guizhou lift millions out of poverty

Liu Yuankun, second left, vice governor of Guizhou province, answers questions about poverty alleviation in Guiyang, Jan 12, 2016. [Photo by Yang Jie/]

With the booming development of e-commerce and big data technology, a southwestern Chinese province aims to lift millions out of poverty as the nation is making its final five-year dash to make all of its 1.3 billion people live a comfortable life.

In Guizhou province's five-year plan to develop society and the economy between 2016 and 2020, big data and big poverty alleviation are highlighted as two major strategies, according Liu Yuankun, the province's vice governor who is in charge of poverty alleviation.

 "This means we will make full use of big data technology to reduce poverty," said Liu.

According to the province's schedule, more than 3 million of the remaining 6.23 million people living below poverty line will be lifted out of poverty by the end of 2017 and all will shake off poverty by 2010.

With the help of big data technology, a "poverty alleviation cloud" has been built, an electronic platform that pools all updated information about residents living below the poverty line such as their location, the causes of their poverty, how much subsidies they get and by what kind of poverty alleviation project they are covered, said Liu. "

By following the data stored in the 'poverty alleviation cloud', we are able to deliver more precise and targeted help to those in poverty," added Liu. Statistics show that Guizhou managed to lift 5.29 million people out of poverty from the beginning of 2011 to the end of 2014, which means that more than one million people in the province shook off poverty annually during the period.

Weining, a gathering place for Yi, Hui and Miao nationalities, is one of Guizhou's poorest counties because although it has favorable natural conditions to grow apple trees it's very difficult for local residents to sell them due to poor marketing skills.

However, now with the help of WeChat, the most widely used instant messaging and also one of the most influential e-commerce mobile app in China, local residents are able to sell ten tons of apples in a week, said Chris Nebe, CEO of Monarex Hollywood, who is currently shooting a documentary about Guizhou.

Rough estimates reveal that the province lifted 1.3 million out of poverty in 2015.

Nationwide, 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. Over the past three decades some 700 million rural residents across China have shaken off poverty.

 "The Chinese Internet has helped Chinese people overcome poverty and I think this is a great success," said Nebe.

By the end of 2015, China still had 70.17 million people in the countryside living below its poverty line of 2,300 yuan ($376) in annual income by 2010 price standards.

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged local governments and Party committees in November to place poverty alleviation at the top of their work agenda.

But helping more than 70 million shake off poverty will be much harder than the lifting of 700 million out of their impoverished conditions that has been achieved in the past more than three decades, since those still living in destitution are either stranded in rural areas that are hard to reach or endure difficulties that they cannot overcome on their own.

"Internet has become a tool for poor Chinese people to make a better life," said Nebe.

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