In February this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping solemnly declared that China’s victory in the battle against poverty was completed: the 98.99 million people in rural areas who were living below the current poverty threshold had all shaken off poverty; all the 128,000 impoverished villages and 832 designated poor counties got rid of poverty, which meant China completed the arduous task of eliminating extreme poverty, and accomplished the first target of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. Since 1978, China’s population that has been lifted out of poverty accounts for more than 70% of the global total over the same period, according to the World Bank’s international poverty standard. Poverty is a long-term and common problem facing all mankind. How can China make poverty alleviation achievements acknowledged throughout the world, and the unprecedented pioneering efforts in the history of human poverty reduction? China’s State Council Information Office recently issued a white paper titled “Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution”, which elaborated on China’s practice and experience in poverty reduction. Here, I would like to share it with friends in Namibia.
The first is sticking to a people-centred philosophy. The problem of poverty, in essence, is how the people should be treated: the people-centred philosophy is the fundamental driving force behind this cause. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). In the face of all the changes in the international landscape and the domestic situation over the past century, the Party has always followed a people-centered philosophy. It has borne in mind its founding mission to seek happiness for the Chinese people and national rejuvenation, and to unite and lead the people in fighting poverty armed with firm convictions and a strong will. Especially since the 18th national congress of the party, the CPC has adopted a series of bold policies and measures to advance the cause, and concentrated its efforts on guaranteeing the basic needs of the poor. It would rather cut down on the number of major projects, penalise short-term, partial or local interests, or slow the pace of economic growth to ensure the task of poverty alleviation is accomplished on schedule. In the fight against poverty, officials and party members have worked with diligence to fulfill the happiness of the poor. More than 1 800 party members and officials have lost their lives in the cause of poverty alleviation. China’s poverty elimination effort is a full and vivid expression of its people-centred philosophy and the CPC’s mission of serving the people wholeheartedly.
The second is insisting on state leadership. Poverty alleviation is a pioneering and arduous trek, which determines that poverty cannot be eliminated by relying solely on the efforts of individuals, local governments, or non-governmental forces. Poverty elimination requires will and action at national level, and it must be elevated to a national strategy. The CPC has always regarded poverty alleviation as an important task for ensuring national peace and stability. It has highlighted poverty alleviation at national level when setting its guidelines, principles and policies, and when formulating national plans for medium and long-term development. The Party has pooled national resources to advance this cause, and motivated generations of its members to devote themselves to this cause, and work together towards the same goal. Since the 18th national congress in 2012, the CPC has prioritised poverty elimination in its governance, strengthened top-level design and strategic planning, and planned and advanced this cause under its centralised and unified leadership. Systems have been established, covering responsibilities, policies, organisation, inputs, mobilisation, supervision, assessment and evaluation, and many other aspects of poverty elimination, providing an institutional guarantee for the nation to advance the battle against poverty.
The third is pursuing development as the top priority. The root cause of poverty is inadequate development. Development is the most effective way to eradicate poverty, and the most reliable path towards a more prosperous life. The CPC has always regarded this as the top priority in governing and rejuvenating the country. It has concentrated its efforts in particular on the economy to address the problem of unbalanced and inadequate development.
China regards reform as an important driving force for poverty eradication, and worked constantly to remove institutional and structural causes of poverty. These measures have contributed to rural development, and increased farmers’ incomes. In addition, China has opened wider to the world amidst economic globalisation and seen sustained and rapid growth in its foreign trade, creating many employment opportunities for rural labour. Since the founding of the PRC in 1949, and especially since the launch of reform and opening up in 1978, the country has witnessed rapid economic and social development, with the economy and national strength growing steadily. This has provided solid support for large-scale development-driven poverty alleviation efforts.
The fourth is pressing ahead with poverty alleviation based on reality. China’s poverty alleviation efforts are based on a realistic appraisal of the situation. China has set its poverty line and its poverty alleviation goals and strategies, and worked to create better ideas and methods based on its national conditions and stage of development. Immediately after its founding in 1949, the PRC addressed the problem of poverty mainly through reform of the social system, and large-scale economic development. After the launch of reform and opening up in 1978, China drove poverty alleviation mainly through rural economic reform and economic growth.
It adopted development-oriented measures, guiding people in impoverished areas to increase their capacity for the accumulation of wealth and endogenous development by adjusting the local economic structure, tapping into local resources, and developing production in response to market demand. In the new era of socialism building, China carries on previous measures, and at the same time implements a strategy of targeted poverty alleviation. The approach has evolved from generalised broad-brush policies to targeted measures based on specific conditions. The model of poverty alleviation has changed from mainly relying on external support like a blood transfusion to a more sustained effort from self-motivation. China has gradually lifted its poverty line based on its economic and social advances and progress in the cause of poverty alleviation to share the fruits of development with more people.
The fifth is pooling all resources to create synergy. In the fight against poverty, the CPC has mobilised and pooled all possible forces by means of its rigorous organisational system and efficient work mechanism. A large-scale poverty alleviation network is established, with the government, society and the market working in coordination, and government-sponsored projects, sector-specific programmes, and corporate and societal assistance supplementing each other. It is a framework with the full participation of multiple players from different regions, sectors, departments and businesses.
China works to strengthen collaboration, and paired assistance between the eastern and western regions at provincial, city and county levels to encourage the flow of talent, capital and technology to poor areas so that they can complement each other and narrow the gaps between them. Poverty alleviation assistance is respectively channeled to designated targets. Party and government institutions, people’s organisations, state-owned enterprises and public institutions, and the military assist certain poor counties or villages. China has designated a National Poverty Alleviation Day, and established a national system to commend models in fighting poverty.
China is the largest developing country in the world. We believe that China’s successful practice and valuable experience in eliminating extreme poverty will effectively boost the confidence of developing countries, including Namibia, in fighting against poverty, and serve as reference for other countries to independently explore a suitable path of poverty alleviation.
Poverty is a major challenge faced by the Namibian government and society. China always attaches great importance to China-Namibia cooperation in people’s livelihood and poverty alleviation, and actively assists Namibia in the construction of a modern youth training centre, vegetable greenhouses, hospitals, schools and other facilities. China has arranged many poverty reduction seminars and exchanges for Namibian government officials and Swapo. We encourage Chinese enterprises to actively participate in the economic development of Namibia and improve Namibia’s infrastructure such as roads, ports and telecommunications facilities.
Chinese companies have donated vegetable greenhouses in the north and invested in ecological farms in Otavi, which are vivid manifestations and concrete examples of our two countries’ deep cooperation in poverty reduction. China is willing to further deepen China-Namibia cooperation in the field of poverty reduction based on the previous achievements, strengthen experience exchange so as to jointly defeat deep-rooted poverty, and work together to enhance the well-being of our two peoples.