Outline shows resolution in ending poverty

Updated: 2011-12-02 08:04

(China Daily)

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BEIJING - China on Thursday officially unveiled its poverty-reduction plan for the next decade.

Goals include providing adequate food and clothing to poverty-stricken people, while ensuring them access to compulsory education, basic medical services and housing by 2020.

In the Outline for Poverty Reduction and Development of China's Rural Areas (2011-2020), the central government says that helping impoverished people to become more prosperous will be a priority over the next decade.

The outline is the third State-level poverty-reduction plan.

China launched its organized, large-scale anti-poverty drive in the mid-1980s. In 1994, it unveiled a plan designed to secure food supplies for 80 million rural residents over seven years, marking the country's first attempt to designate a specific target for poverty reduction.

In 2001, China published the Outline for Poverty Reduction and Development of China's Rural Areas (2001-2010), reiterating the need to reduce poverty through development projects.

The poverty-stricken population in rural regions fell to 26.8 million by the end of last year from 250 million in 1978. The country also met the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal of halving its population living in poverty five years ahead of schedule.

Despite the progress China has made, authorities say poverty reduction will continue to be an arduous and long-term task.

Some regions remain poor, including the mountainous Liupanshan region in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and the Qinling-Bashan region, partly because of their unfavorable transport access, as well as climate and geographic conditions.

The outline said the government will focus on helping poor areas that lie in vast and contiguous stretches to shake off poverty over the next decade.

"These regions will see intensified efforts aimed at fighting poverty and increased financial input," said Wang Sangui, professor at Renmin University of China's School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.

Currently, poverty reduction does not only mean providing adequate food and clothing for those in need, it also means letting them live with dignity, said Li Xiaoyun, a rural development expert at the university.

"In the past, China faced the challenge of widespread, absolute poverty. Right now, its main task is to deal with the yawning wealth gap."

Meanwhile, some rural residents easily fall back into poverty after natural disasters and economic changes.

"The difficulty in eliminating poverty, therefore, lies not only in reducing the poverty-stricken population, but also in boosting the impoverished regions' capabilities for self-initiated development," Wang said.

The outline also pledges to continue to improve its social security network and make social security "a basic measure" for solving the problems of insufficient food and clothing.

Established in 2007, China's rural minimum living allowance system covered 52.14 million poor farmers by the end of last year.

This week, the government also raised the poverty threshold to 2,300 yuan ($360) annual net income, a 92-percent increase from the standard set in 2009. Under the new standard, more than 100 million rural residents became eligible for anti-poverty subsidies.

Xinhua

(China Daily 12/02/2011 page3)