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Members of African community impressed by progress

China Daily | Updated: 2021-07-21 07:00
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Justina Obaoye-Ajala from Nigeria was impressed when she saw the new buildings to which previously poverty-stricken rural residents had been relocated.

"I saw that cave house where they were living before. But now they are living in good buildings with good facilities," says Obaoye-Ajala.

Youth representatives from 13 African countries visited Xingxian, a once impoverished county located in North China's Shanxi province, from July 13 to 17 to learn about China's poverty-alleviation efforts.

The group consisted of students, lawyers, doctors, journalists and entrepreneurs, and was organized by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Over the last eight years, China's final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents living below the current poverty line were declared poverty-free. The country then met the poverty-eradication target set out in the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a decade ahead of schedule.

During the trip, the African representatives visited multiple places, including a previously poor village, industrial bases and relocation sites for the poor.

In Shahao village, which was once trapped in poverty due to poor natural conditions and inconvenient transportation, the young Africans witnessed the new lives of villagers.

"I was amazed that they had no shortage of necessities such as electricity and tap water," says Sumayyah Hosany, a doctor from Mauritius who is working at the Panhealth Medical Center in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang province.

Today, roads are connected to every household, with 76 new-energy streetlights installed, according to Meng Qingke, the village's Party secretary.

Meanwhile, the village focused on the development of small industry based on grain crops, while the local paper-cutting craft-a form of intangible cultural heritage-has also been passed on and developed over the past few years, Meng says.

Also on the trip was Joseph Olivier Mendo'o from Cameroon, who is working on his PhD at Peking University.

He learned that the Chinese government has explored many ways to reduce poverty and stimulate the internal motivation of people to lift themselves out of poverty, he says.

The officials and villagers really trust each other, he adds.

The trip in Xingxian gave the group a deeper understanding of China's poverty-relief industries.

The representatives visited enterprises of processing agricultural products to learn how poverty alleviation is closely linked to industry, as well as the role played by e-commerce in poverty relief and rural vitalization.

Sumayyah Hosany and two of her fellow Africans took part in a livestreaming session to promote the agricultural products of Xingxian.

She says she thinks the county has shown them what is important and how e-commerce platforms can be used.

Last year, online retail sales in rural areas jumped to 1.79 trillion yuan ($277.27 billion) from 180 billion yuan in 2014, providing a vital driving force in lifting farmers out of poverty.

With 3,224 people now in residence, the Liuyegou relocation site not only provides the poor with new homes, but also infrastructure, such as tap water, electricity, heating, gas and the internet.

There are also health and sports facilities.

"I hope every country in the world, even the Western countries and African countries, can emulate this," says Obaoye-Ajala.

China fully completed its poverty-alleviation relocation programs by the end of 2020, with all 9.6 million people involved having moved into new homes and shaken off absolute poverty.

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