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Poor county visited by Xi shakes off poverty

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-27 21:39

Poor county visited by Xi shakes off poverty

Two famers pick lotus roots in Caozhuang village, Lankao county, Henan province on Dec 8, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua] 

ZHENGZHOU -- Lankao county in Central China's Henan province Monday announced its withdrawal from the country's list of impoverished counties.

It is the second to do so after Jinggangshan in eastern China's Jiangxi province was removed from the list in late February.

A county can be removed from the list if less than two percent of its population is classified as "impoverished," according to a national mechanism to phase out impoverished regions established in April 2016.

In 2014, 11.8 percent of Lankao's population was in poverty, but the ratio has now dropped to 1.27 percent, according to an assessment by the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

After evaluation results were examined and approved by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, Henan Provincial Government greenlit the county's withdrawal Monday.

"Today is a commemorable day," said Cai Songtao, secretary of the Lankao County Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at a press conference. "Getting rid of poverty has been the ardent wish of Lankao residents for decades."

In 2014, as part of the efforts to improve Party-people relations, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, visited Lankao twice as part of a campaign pairing top Party officials with the country's poverty-stricken areas.

That year, Lankao county authorities made a commitment to cast off poverty in three years and achieve moderate prosperity in seven years.

To achieve success, Cai said that the county government made poverty alleviation its first and primary task.

"Over the process, we've realized that poverty alleviation is not the main goal, but that achieving moderate prosperity matters more," he said.

Figures show per capita disposable income in urban and rural areas in Lankao rose 7.5 percent and 9.6 percent year on year to 21,124 yuan ($3,072) and 9,943 yuan in 2016, doubling the amounts in 2013.

The county's economy expanded by 9.4 percent to 25.76 billion yuan in 2016, boosted by upgrades to the agricultural and industrial sectors and ecological tourism in recent years.

Xuchang village of Guyang township is rich in paulownia trees, an ideal raw material for musical instrument manufacturing. The village has 54 musical instrument factories with sales revenue reaching more than 60 million yuan.

Villager Xu Erpai, who could not even pay his own medical bills in the past, has secured an annual income of 300,000 yuan for the past two years.

Funded by the local government, Xu learned to make instrument strings in Yangzhou city in the eastern province of Jiangsu and established a plant in Lankao two years ago.

"We can't blame god or the government for our poverty. Overcoming it is our own business," said Xu, who now owns a two-story building and a vehicle.

The county became known nationwide after model official Jiao Yulu, late Lankao Party head in the 1960s, devoted his life to improving quality of life while fighting sandstorms, bad soil and floods.

"CPC members have led Lankao's people to fight against poverty generation after generation, and the pressure of anti-poverty efforts has become a driver of economic growth," said current Lankao Party head Cai.

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