In the past 2020 when the world stumbled over the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing changes unseen in a century, China secured a timely and decisive victory against poverty. The final 100 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line have all been lifted out of poverty. All impoverished counties and villages have also been removed from the poverty list, putting an end to extreme poverty and region-wide poverty. China has met the poverty eradication target set out by the UN 10 years ahead of schedule, contributing to over 70 per cent of the global reduction in poverty over the period. China’s accomplishment is a miracle in the millennia-long human history of fighting against poverty, and rings an upbeat note at this dark moment for humanity.
Poverty is a deep-rooted problem in all societies. To get rid of poverty is a dream pursued by billions of Chinese people. Chinese President Xi Jinping once said: “For over 40 years when I worked successively at county, municipal, provincial and central government levels, poverty alleviation has always been a vital part of my work where I spent most of my energy.” Forty years’ endeavour in poverty alleviation is not only a common career shared by numerous Chinese officials of all levels, but also a common life experience shared by nearly all Chinese. Personally speaking, I worked in Hotan Prefecture in south of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from 2002 to 2005. This historic region famous for its fine jades back then was one of the poorest places in China. All my colleagues and I were thinking and working on was how to lift the people out of poverty and lead them to live a decent life. A decade sometimes feels like a fleeting moment. With relentless efforts of generations of sent-down cadres, all impoverished areas in Xinjiang including Hotan have been lifted out poverty. As Xinjiang’s economy develops to a new level, people of all ethnicities now enjoy better livelihoods and more concrete benefits. From 2014 to 2019, its annual GDP growth stood at 7.2 per cent; the disposable income per capita grew by 9.1 per cent. The Uygur population grew from 10.17 million to 12.71 million, an increase of 25.04 per cent.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, China has put poverty alleviation on top of its governance agenda. A series of creative and unique measures have been adopted in this ambitious poverty alleviation campaign which has an unparalleled scale in human history. Over the past eight years, China has built a poverty intervention system that covers all impoverished population and is tailor-made to different types of poverty. Massive investment has been poured into infrastructure development in poor areas. The social security network in rural areas has been constantly improved. A national poverty reduction framework featuring targeted measures has been established to ensure people’s livelihood. China has also integrated poverty alleviation with environmental conservation and cultural development, breaking new grounds for sustained poverty reduction. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres rightly pointed out, “targeted poverty reduction strategies are the only way to reach those farthest behind and achieve the ambitious targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development…China’s experiences can provide valuable lessons to other developing countries.”
As the largest developing country in the world, China has been actively engaged in international cooperation on poverty alleviation. By fulfilling its poverty-related international responsibilities and providing assistance to developing countries to the best of its ability, China is an active practitioner and promoter of international poverty reduction cause. China has been deepening the alignment of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the Belt and Road Initiative which, according to a World Bank report, is expected to lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million out of moderate poverty. Holding high the banner of humanitarianism, the UAE has also provided Yemen, Africa and other places with assistance worth billions of dollars over the years. The UAE has been the world’s largest donor of official development aid, relative to its national income, for several consecutive years. By providing jobs for more than eight million foreign workers, the UAE has lifted millions of families from different countries out of poverty. The UAE and China have also been helping with the capacity-building programmes of developing countries through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, jointly contributing to the international cause of poverty reduction.
As President Xi Jinping pointed out, “shaking off poverty is not the finish line, but the starting point of a new life and new endeavour”. In the new year, Covid-19 continues to pose grave challenges to poverty alleviation efforts across the world. Our most powerful weapon is to strengthen international cooperation to fight against the pandemic and poverty. While securing a complete victory over poverty at home, China will always stay committed to working with the UAE and international community to promote the international poverty reduction endeavors and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, so as to build a wonderful and prosperous world free from any poverty.
Ni Jian is Chinese Ambassador to the UAE
Is it unethical? Sure, it is — unless you believe in transparency and inform both parties about the matter and they give you the go-ahead (which is unlikely in most cases)
If the affluent among us contribute directly to society by buying bread for the poor, it will build direct access to the needy, cutting all bureaucratic tapes