In April, three ethnic minority groups in southwest China's Yunnan Province, the Derung, Jino and De'ang, announced that they had shaken off poverty. These groups now have entered a prosperous society in all aspects since the 1950s. Their success is a big victory in China's fight against poverty and a milestone in the human history of fighting poverty.
These ethnic minorities mostly lived in mountainous areas with little arable land and were cut off from the rest of the country. They were the most impoverished, vulnerable and special groups in Yunnan or even in China. In 2015, the total population of the three groups was 2.33 million, out of which 667,500 were registered as impoverished. Their communities had underdeveloped social systems and low productivity. Before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, they mostly lived by hunting and foraging wild plants. Some of them had no concept of numbers, commodities or the currency. In 2003, the illiteracy rate among these groups was as high as 36 percent, with an average education of less than four years.
On January 20, 2015, President Xi Jinping visited Yunnan and stressed that all ethnic groups should work together to live a moderately prosperous life. Following that, help began pouring in. Officials and volunteers also came to stay in the villages to help with poverty reduction work, or teach locals to read and write. In 2016, Yunnan began to implement its 2016-20 poverty alleviation program, focusing on six areas: capacity enhancement, labor export, housing, nurturing characteristic industries, infrastructure, and ecological environmental protection.
Supported by all these measures, today the ethnic groups have stepped into a prosperous society in all aspects, surmounting mountains of deep-rooted poverty.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article originally published in Lookout Weekly on July 29)