Relocation, education are keys to lifting people out of poverty

By Paul Tomic | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-10-18 07:30

Five years ago, at the First Plenary Session of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping became general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. Shortly afterward, Xi set out his vision for the future.

That vision included the Chinese Dream, a road map to producing a "moderately prosperous" society by implementing a series of measures designed to raise living standards and lift more than 10 million people out of poverty every year to eradicate the problem by 2020.

While the country still has more than two years to fulfill that goal, the efforts made so far have outstripped estimates and have gained recognition from economists, social commentators and financial institutions across the globe.

In a recent interview with China Daily, Bert Hofman, the World Bank's country director for China, South Korea and Mongolia, praised the improvements in living standards since 2012.

Relocation, education are keys to lifting people out of poverty

"As a World Bank official, I think the drive to eradicate poverty is the most important development in the past five years. We are confident China will achieve its goal of poverty eradication in the countryside by 2020," he said.

Those improvements are also the result of farsighted measures implemented over many years, not simply since 2012.

In 1997, Xi, who was then deputy Party chief of Fujian province, made a survey visit to Guyuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region. The village was mired in deep poverty as a result of its mountainous location, poor-quality arable land, nonexistent infrastructure and frequent droughts. In 1992, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization described the area around Guyuan as one of the places most "unfit for human habitation" on the planet.

During his visit, Xi proposed that plans should be drawn up to relocate Guyuan's 60-plus villagers to a new township that would be built in a more fertile area 300 kilometers away. Today, that township, Minning, is a center of viniculture and has a population of 600,000. Last year, the average annual per capita income was 10,732 yuan ($1,618), a sharp rise from the average 500 yuan 20 years ago when the first residents began to arrive.

Levels of literacy and general education have risen too. In Guyuan, children rarely attended primary school until they were age 8 because the 8-kilometer round trip was too fatiguing for them. Access to education is vital in the battle against poverty, allowing young rural residents to attend schools and colleges to create a new generation of scholars, technocrats and informed workers.

Now, children are able to attend school at an earlier age.

"The school is only a few minutes' walk away. I'm illiterate, my son is semiliterate, but I hope one day my grandchildren can go to college," said 60-something Hai Guibao - whose family was one of the first to move from Guyuan - when he was asked recently to discuss the impact of the relocation program.

Other measures, such as the "East-West Pairing-off Cooperation for Poverty Reduction", under which the more-industrialized wealthier eastern provinces assist the less well-off western regions, will continue the push to raise living standards and achieve the goal of eradicating poverty on schedule or even ahead of time.

Those efforts are being reinforced in the field of education by the work of socially conscious individuals, such as Leung Waiming, a retired headmaster from Hong Kong who has spent the past 10 years raising funds to build libraries for children at impoverished rural schools in Hunan province.

With the start of the 19th Party Congress, politicians, economists and social scientists will be eager to see what new measures will be formulated and released to ensure that the goal is met.

For observers such as the World Bank's Hofman, the prospect is alluring: "For the world, our target is to eradicate poverty by 2030. It will be great for China to achieve it by 2020, 10 years ahead of our schedule."

Contact the writer at

(China Daily USA 10/18/2017 page3)

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349