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China Daily Global / 2020-11 / 25 / Page011

Elimination of absolute poverty historical marker of new beginning

China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-11-25 00:00

Feeding, clothing and sheltering 1.4 billion people is no easy job. But somehow China has managed to do it. And, in so doing, it has become the first developing country to accomplish the poverty reduction target of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development-and done it 10 years ahead of schedule.

The last nine impoverished counties in Guizhou province, actually the last in the whole of China, officially shed their "national-level poor county" labels on Monday.

That was a milestone of historical significance, since not only have all the 66 State-designated poor counties in Guizhou, but all 832 across the country that once carried that label officially bid farewell to abject poverty.

The country has therefore fulfilled its decadeslong goal of eliminating absolute poverty.

As President Xi Jinping proudly shared with other G20 leaders via video link the other day, lifting more than 700 million people out of poverty in a matter of four decades has been no mean feat.

The achievement is particularly conspicuous considering that the remaining poverty in recent years has been the most intractable. But local authorities have demonstrated their capability to fulfill national policy goals. The good news from Guizhou came despite the country having to contend with the twin pressures from the economic downturn and the novel coronavirus outbreak. In 2020 alone, 21 provinces and autonomous regions that were home to "poor counties" waved adieu to poverty.

More importantly, the "decisive victory" against poverty marks a great leap toward the fulfillment of a key centennial goal of building a moderately well-off society in an all-around manner by this year's end. Yet no praise should blind us to the fact that getting rid of the "poor county" label in no way means poverty is a thing of the past.

The fight against poverty is a dynamic process. We have plenty of sad examples of people being declared above the poverty line sliding back after a natural disaster or illness. Our current poverty line is low. The achievements made are preliminary and fragile.

The director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development warned in May that some local authorities had slackened efforts for poverty relief, and the incomes of some residents who had found themselves above the poverty line were stagnating, if not already dropping.

President Xi, for one, has urged local authorities to continue helping those on low incomes even after their counties have got rid of the poverty label. And it should never be forgotten that not all people in need of assistance live in counties with "poverty" labels.

The communiqué of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China pointed out that it is necessary to raise the income level of the people, build a high-quality education system and improve the multilevel social security system, so as to enhance people's sense of gain and happiness.

The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) will set out specifics of how the poverty eradication achievement is to be consolidated.

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