The good leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) provides the fundamental guarantee that the Chinese people will shake off poverty and enjoy a better life. The CPC leadership provides this guarantee through its upholding of people-centered principles.
Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, the CPC Central Committee, with President Xi Jinping at its core, has attached great importance to poverty alleviation in national governance and has launched the largest all-out campaign for poverty alleviation in human history. With nearly 100 million poor people shaking off poverty since 2012, China has made notable progress in poverty alleviation that has been lauded by other countries. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, more than 500,000 staff of public institutions have been selected as first secretaries, who are seconded from their usual positions and tasked with providing full-time poverty alleviation assistance in rural villages. Over the same period, more than 3 million other staff of public institutions have been sent to rural villages to provide additional poverty alleviation assistance. At present, there are more than 200,000 first secretaries actively working, and nearly 900,000 other government officials and staff of public institutions working on poverty alleviation projects in rural villages.
Ecological Conservation for Poverty Alleviation
“Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” – this is a philosophy Xi Jinping cherishes on environmental protection and eco-environmental conservation. Based on his summation of the lessons and experiences of human development, it reflects Xi’s profound thinking about civilization.
Acting on this understanding, people will give priority to conservation and pursue green development. Poverty alleviation must not proceed at the expense of the environment. New approaches will be explored so that the poor will benefit from eco-environmental conservation and restoration.
Guided by this philosophy, sustainable and environment-friendly development projects are supported in poor regions to boost the local economy without causing damage to the environment, and the eco-environment will itself be developed as a resource in a way to ensure local economic development, improve local living conditions and protect the eco-environment at the same time.
Relocation of Rural Poor for Poverty Alleviation
Relocating those living under adverse natural conditions is one of China’s five targeted measures in battling poverty. The Decision on Winning the Battle Against Poverty provides special plans on accelerating the relocation of rural poor who live under unfavorable natural conditions, in fragile eco-environments, or in areas suffering frequent disasters.
This relocation is a green pathway as it follows the natural rules and dynamics of the economy. For areas with fragile eco-environments, conservation is a wise tactic to avoid further damage caused by development while improving the living conditions of the poor by removing them to better locations. This can effectively promote local sustainable economic and social development.
China planned to relocate 10 million people registered as living below the poverty line during the 13th Five-year Plan period (2016-2020). By the end of 2019, it had roughly completed this task.
Strengthening Party Development in Poverty Alleviation
Strengthening Party development in poverty alleviation is a gained experience of China. Xi Jinping has proposed the idea of making Party development and poverty elimination mutually reinforcing, and assessing Party development by the results of poverty elimination.
Rural grassroots Party branches are the bases of the Party’s rural work, and they play a decisive role in implementing the Party’s plans for development-oriented poverty alleviation. Poverty alleviation will advance with the development of grassroots organizations. Concurrently, village management organizations centered on village Party branches will be strengthened. Party branches will be the core that leads villagers to get rid of poverty, better themselves, and maintain rural stability. They will be service-oriented in serving the people, developing the local economy, and improving local living standards.
Poverty Alleviation Through Education
The CPC and the Chinese government attach high importance to education. They have endeavored to promote nine-year compulsory education, eliminate illiteracy among young people, create a balance in the quality of education resources, and provide targeted assistance to children from poor families.
Since 2012, Xi Jinping has put forward a series of new ideas and requirements on building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, including poverty alleviation through education. He told the Central Conference on Poverty Alleviation and Development in November 2015 that education is the best way to stop intergenerational transmission of poverty, and education is of far-reaching significance to poor areas and must be developed well. While increasing material wealth, efforts are also needed to enrich people’s knowledge.
According to the Guidelines on Poverty Alleviation Through Education, jointly formulated by a number of ministries in 2013, different goals are set for basic, vocational and higher education. Basic education will address such problems as poor school conditions, bad infrastructure, and lack of good teachers and educational funds, so that local education will meet relevant standards and reach eligible children. Vocational education will enhance people’s capacity for self-development in order to escape poverty, achieve prosperity, develop the regional economy, and help poor regions find ways to aid themselves. Higher education should play a role in promoting the economic, industrial and technological development of poor areas, and advance the upgrading of their industrial structure. Colleges and universities will also enroll more candidates from poor areas and ensure their access to higher education.
Photovoltage Projects for Poverty Alleviation
Photovoltage (PV) projects have proved effective in China’s poverty alleviation efforts. Supported by reliable technologies, such clean power projects can produce stable incomes for the poor and benefit local development. The necessary equipment can be easily installed in small solar stations run by households or villages, or in large solar plants. They can also provide power for agriculture and forestry.
PV projects are especially suitable in places with a lot of sunshine. This also fits with China’s strategy of developing clean and low-carbon energies.
Poverty Alleviation Through Creating New Economic Activity
This is a special policy devised to support poor regions. It targets the poor, gives them preferential treatment, and emphasizes the need to focus on local development.
China has relied on this strategy to help the poor increase their incomes and to end poverty in rural areas. This can be seen in a number of documents, including the Seven-year Program for Lifting 80 Million People Out of Poverty (1994-2000), the Outline for Development-oriented Poverty Alleviation of China’s Rural Areas (2011-2020), and the Decision on Winning the Battle Against Poverty.
Welfare Jobs for Poverty Alleviation
Jobs that are welfare in nature are created especially for the impoverished people in poor villages and poor regions, so that they can support themselves while improving local public services as the government will buy their services with cash or benefits in kind. The welfare jobs are compulsory, part-time, non-technical and welfare nature.
The Health Program for Poverty Alleviation
According to the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, nearly 20 million people in China were victims of poverty or had returned to poverty because of illness by the end of 2015, accounting for 44.1 percent of the total number of poor population. Illness was the main cause of poverty. Of this total, 7.34 million had serious or chronic illnesses. Bad health may cause poverty, and poverty can in turn lead to bad health, thus forming a vicious cycle of “illness—poverty—illness” among the poor.
Naturally, protecting these people’s right to health, preventing them from being trapped in or returning to poverty because of illness, and launching a health program are therefore very important features of China’s poverty alleviation effort. The health program is part of China’s targeted poverty elimination strategy, and an important measure to win the battle against poverty and achieve moderate prosperity in all respects.
In response to this, relevant government departments worked out the Guidelines on Implementing the Health Program for Poverty Alleviation. The program echoes China’s poverty alleviation goal of guaranteeing access to basic medical services, the Healthy China initiative and the strategy of rural revitalization. Efforts will be made to ensure that the poor can afford medical services and seldom fall ill, as they can expect help from serious illness insurance and chronic illness services, and government funds will cover the remaining cost of critical ailments after the relevant reimbursements.
Financial Measures for Poverty Alleviation
Financial measures are adopted in response to market demand. With more fund-raising channels, they help increase input and offer powerful support to China’s poverty elimination campaign.
Under the guidance of the central authorities, local governments, financial institutions, enterprises and social organizations have played their roles in providing comprehensive financial services to poor areas and poor people, supporting low-income and poor rural households in production and business, and helping them escape poverty, increase income and enhance their economic and social status.
Relevant financial policies and mechanisms have improved, from soft loans to micro loans, from exploring the mode of financial assistance to devising a range of financial policies for poverty alleviation, and to targeted poverty alleviation supported by inclusive finance and financial technologies. Financial measures are applied extensively in China’s development-oriented poverty relief, and have become an effective tool in the campaign of poverty alleviation.
Social Assistance in Poverty Alleviation
Social assistance refers to all kinds of aid, development help and social services provided by multiple actors to poor population and disadvantaged groups. Social assistance has since the mid-1990s been an important part of China’s poverty alleviation campaign.
Development-Oriented Poverty Alleviation
Development-oriented poverty alleviation is different from the previous approach of providing funds to the poor. It is China’s core policy on poverty alleviation. Officials and residents in poor areas are encouraged to exploit local resources, expand commodity production, improve productive conditions, and increase their capacity for endogenous development.
It highlights development as the essential means to end poverty, and regards the poor as the main actors. China aims to reduce the size of poor population, enhance people’s relevant skills and integrate them into wider society. In addition to lifting the poor out of poverty, it also works to lower the possibility of their becoming victims of poverty in the first place.
Development-oriented poverty alleviation produces the basic conditions for rural economic development, and guides the poor to enlist in the effort. This will help them escape poverty both economically and socially.
Transparency in Poverty Alleviation
Funds for poverty relief are intended to help those in need, and it is unacceptable that a single coin might be wasted or misused. There will be transparent management and strict auditing, and work-related crimes in poverty alleviation will be investigated and punished. Those who dare to misappropriate, retain, falsely claim, or squander poverty relief funds will be severely punished.
Development-oriented poverty alleviation is a matter of distribution of resources. Avoiding malpractice and plugging loopholes have remained a problem around the world. On the one hand, local governments and other organizations as the executors of relevant policies might try to use policies to benefit themselves first, thereby leading to waste of relief resources; on the other, asymmetric information can easily lead to passive execution of policies.
To increase transparency, discipline and rules will be strictly observed, with improved institutions, strict scrutiny, and effective prevention and penalties for violations. Public notification of the application of poverty relief funds and projects will be improved, as will the procedures for the poor to participate in every step of poverty alleviation. Media scrutiny, cross-reviews and supervision between provinces, and third party evaluation will also be introduced and encouraged to enhance the transparent usage of funds, project implementation, and evaluation of relevant outcomes.