New Progress in Development-oriented Poverty Reduction Program for Rural China
Information Office of the State Council The People’s Republic of China
November 2011, Beijing
I. Development-oriented Poverty Reduction Policies and Their Implementation
II. Achievements of the Development-oriented Poverty Reduction Program
III. Special Poverty Reduction Programs
IV. Poverty Reduction by Industries
V. Social Involvement in Poverty Reduction
VI. International Cooperation
Poverty is a challenge facing all countries and the international community as a whole. To promote development, eliminate poverty and achieve common prosperity is an ideal that humanity constantly pursues.
China is a developing country with the largest population in the world, featuring a poor economic foundation and noticeable unbalanced development. In particular, it has a large poverty-stricken population in the rural areas, rendering the mission to reduce poverty particularly difficult. For this reason, China’ s poverty reduction program is, to a large extent, nothing but solving the poverty problem in the rural areas.
The Chinese government has always made poverty reduction an important goal and task of national development, adhered to the principle of putting people first, and worked hard to enable all the people to enjoy the fruits of economic and social development. It was in the mid-1980s that the Chinese government started the development-oriented poverty reduction program in the rural areas in an organized and planned way. It formulated and implemented the Seven-year Priority Poverty Reduction Program (1994-2000), the Outline for Poverty Reduction and Development of China’s Rural Areas (2001-2010), and the Outline for Development-oriented Poverty Reduction for China’s Rural Areas (2011-2020), and a few other poverty reduction plans, making poverty reduction a common aim and action of the whole society. China’s development-oriented poverty reduction program in the rural areas has promoted social harmony and stability, fairness and justice, and made contributions to the development and progress of the country’s cause of human rights.
Poverty reduction is a common cause of the entire human society, and China’s development-oriented poverty reduction program is an important component of the world’s poverty reduction efforts. China has realized, ahead of schedule, the goal of cutting the poverty-stricken population by half, as listed in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, thus making great contributions to the world’s poverty reduction efforts.
In 2001, the Chinese government issued a white paper titled The Development-oriented Poverty Reduction Program for Rural China. Here, this new white paper is an account of the progress of this program over the past decade.
I. Development-oriented Poverty Reduction Policies and Their Implementation
In the past decade, the national economy of China grew rapidly and steadily, and the overall national strength grew constantly. During this period, the Chinese government incorporated development-oriented poverty reduction into its overall plan for national economic and social development, formulated and implemented policies and measures conducive to the development of poverty-stricken rural areas, made poverty reduction a priority in public finance budgeting, and poor areas key recipients of public finance support, continuously increased support to poor areas and earnestly enhanced ability in the implementation of poverty-reduction policies.
Rural policies. China is traditionally an agricultural country with a large rural population and a great number of people in dire poverty. The implementation of rural policies conducive to rural poverty reduction is thus extremely important for eliminating poverty in rural China. In the past decade, the Chinese government carried out the strategy of coordinating urban and rural economic and social development, and the principles of industry nurturing agriculture, urban areas supporting rural areas and “giving more, taking less and loosening control” to promote the comprehensive development of rural economy and society to benefit all poor areas and all rural poor. The government successively abolished the animal husbandry tax, pig slaughtering tax, and tax on agricultural and forestry specialties. Then, it abolished the agriculture tax and wrote it in the law, and this is of particular significance as it made rural people in China bid final farewell to the payment of agriculture tax that had existed in China for over 2,600 years. The government issued subsidies directly to grain growers, subsidies for purchasing fine seeds and agricultural machinery and tools and general subsidies for purchasing agricultural supplies; gradually established and improved the social security system for rural China, and pushed forward the construction of infrastructure related to drinking water, electricity, road and methane, along with the renovation of dilapidated rural housing. The system of collective forest rights was reformed to make farmers real contractors of forested land and real owners of trees in the forests, various preferential policies were implemented to develop the forest economy and forest tourism to increase the farmers’ incomes. The government kept increasing investment into measures that strengthen agriculture and measures that bring benefits to the farmers and increase their incomes, as well as the development-oriented poverty reduction program. The outlays of the central finance on agriculture, the countryside and farmers increased from 214.42 billion yuan in 2003 to 857.97 billion yuan in 2010, representing an annual increase of 21.9 percent on average, indicating that the public finance is quickening the pace of supporting the countryside. Some state policies that strengthen agriculture and benefit farmers and increase their incomes were first carried out in impoverished areas. Of them, some policies were first carried out in key counties in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs, and these policies included the pilot project to abolish the agriculture tax, the policy to exempt rural students in compulsory education from poor families from paying tuition and miscellaneous fees, and to provide living subsides for boarders, and the policy to reduce or cancel the required supporting funds to be supplied by local governments at and below the county level for the new public-welfare infrastructure projects listed in national plans. Poor areas and poor people were given top priority in the implementation of some policies that strengthen agriculture and benefit farmers. The central government gave considerable financial support to central and western regions in terms of subsistence allowances for rural residents, new cooperative medical care and new social endowment insurance for rural residents. In 2010, the civil affairs departments paid a total of 1.4 billion yuan in subsidies to 46.154 million people in the new rural cooperative medical care scheme, or an average of 30.3 yuan per person.
Regional policies. At the end of the 20th century, the Chinese government started to carry out the strategy of large-scale development of the western region. Compared to other regions of China, Western China has rather adverse natural conditions, underdeveloped infrastructure and a larger population of the poor. In the last decade, water conservancy projects, projects of returning cultivated land to forests and projects of resource exploitation, as planned in the strategy of developing the western region, were launched first in poverty-stricken areas, if all other conditions were equal; highways were extended to poor areas at a quicker pace to link up the county seats of poor areas with national and provincial trunklines; the labor force of poor areas was given preference in infrastructure construction projects to increase the cash income of the poor. The government worked out and implemented a series of policies for regional development to promote economic and social development in Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited areas in Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces, as well as in Xinjiang, Guangxi, Chongqing, Ningxia, Gansu, Inner Mongolia and Yunnan, and pushed forward the development-oriented poverty reduction program as a policy priority.
Rural social security system. To provide basic social security for the poverty-stricken population is the most fundamental way to steadily solve the problem of adequate food and clothing for such people. In 2007, the state decided to establish a rural subsistence allowance system throughout the rural areas that would cover all rural residents whose per-capita annual net household income was below the prescribed standard, so as to solve the problem of adequate food and clothing for the rural poor in a stable, lasting and effective way. The standards of rural subsistence allowance were determined by local governments above the county level on the basis of the fees needed for such basic necessities as food, clothing, water, electricity and other things throughout the year. By the end of 2010, the system covered 25.287 million rural households, totaling 52.14 million people. In 2010, a total of 44.5 billion yuan of rural subsistence allowance was issued, including 26.9 billion yuan of subsidy funds from the central government. The average standard for rural subsistence allowance is 117 yuan per person per month, and the average subsidy is 74 yuan per person per month. The state provides the five guaranteed forms of support (food, clothing, housing, medical care and burial expenses) for old, weak, orphaned, widowed or disabled rural residents who are unable to work and have no family support. During the decade, the government gradually turned these five forms of support from a collective welfare system into a modern social security system financed by the state instead of by the rural people themselves. By the end of 2010, the five forms of support had been extended to 5.34 million rural households totaling 5.563 million rural residents and basically covering almost all eligible rural residents. The public finances at all levels altogether granted 9.64 billion yuan to eligible rural residents for such support. In 2009, the state launched a pilot scheme of a new type of social endowment insurance for rural residents in some places. By July 2011, the scheme had extended to 60 percent of rural China, covering 493 key counties in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs, accounting for 83 percent of such counties. Under this new type of social endowment insurance for rural residents, the funds needed are pooled from personal contributions, collective grants and government subsidies, and the pensions are paid from the basic funds and personal accounts; the central finance subsidizes central and western China all the basic funds for old-age pensions in line with the standards decided by the central government, and subsidizes 50 percent of such funds for eastern China. In 2010, the central finance provided a total subsidy of 11.1 billion yuan for the basic old-age pension funds of the new social en-dowment insurance for rural residents, while the local finances supplied 11.6 billion yuan for the same purpose. In 2004, the state introduced a standard minimum wage system, which has played a positive role in guaranteeing the rights and interests of laborers, mainly migrant workers from rural areas, with respect to remuneration for their labor.
Better implementation of poverty reduction policies. The success of a policy lies in its implementation. The Chinese government regards the establishment of a job-responsibility system, strengthening of the contingent of cadres and building of relevant institutions as the key to the implementation of poverty reduction policies, and has taken effective measures to ensure the implementation of the policies. The central government has raised a requirement that “provincial governments take the overall responsibility and county governments are responsible for the implementation to ensure that poverty reduction staff go down to the villages and the policies reach every household.” In accordance with this requirement, provincial governments shoulder the responsibilities, take the tasks, receive funds and exercise the power; governments of key counties covered in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs take poverty reduction as a central task, and are responsible for implementing the relevant policies and measures in every poor village and poor household. A responsibility system is established for top leaders of local Party committees and governments in the poverty reduction work, and the results of this work are taken as an important criterion for checking and evaluating their performance in their official career. To strengthen the building of the contingent of cadres in poor areas, the Chinese government has incorporated the training of county-level cadres and cadres from poverty reduction departments above the county level in poor areas into the program of Party and government cadre training, and strengthened and improved the contingent of cadres in poor areas by such means as appointing them to temporary posts or exchange of posts. The government has strengthened statistics collection related to and supervision over poverty reduction work to provide reliable data for scientific decision-making. The state has strengthened organizational building at the primary level in poor areas, worked hard to improve the ideology and work style of cadres at the primary level, and taken comprehensive measures to maintain law and order to maintain social stability in these areas. The state has enhanced poverty reduction working organizations at all levels, ensured their personnel stability, improved their conditions and qualities, and enhanced the organization, leadership, coordination and management of the poverty reduction work. Relevant departments under the State Council regard poverty reduction as an important task and conscientiously implement the poverty reduction policies in line with their corresponding functions and powers.
China’ s development-oriented poverty reduction policies display the following characteristics:
Combining development-oriented poverty reduction with social security. By means of these policies, the state guides poor areas and people in poverty to, in line with market-oriented objective, adjust the local economic structure, exploit local resources, develop commodity production, and improve their capability of self-accumulation and self-development. The state also lays stress on comprehensive exploitation and overall development in order to promote local infrastructure construction and balanced economic and social development. The state also pays attention to sustainable development, strengthens resource conservation and ecological construction, and controls the rapid growth of the population. The state promotes equal share of basic public services between the urban and rural areas, establishes and improves the system of subsistence allowance in rural areas, gradually raises the level of the five forms of support, constantly improves the emergency-response and relief system in case of natural disasters, establishes the new type of cooperative medical care for rural residents, and introduces pilot projects in the new rural social endowment system for rural residents, so as to provide basic living guarantees for the poor. In the key counties covered in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs, the state launches pilot projects to integrate development-oriented poverty reduction policies with the system of subsistence allowance for rural residents, endeavoring to extend the related policies to all the rural poor.
Combining special poverty reduction actions with industrial and social efforts. Targeting the poverty-stricken people and areas, taking special poverty reduction funds from the public finances as the main source and aiming at subsistence and development of the poor population, the state works out special programs for development-oriented poverty reduction and carries them out on a yearly basis. The state gives full play to the functions and responsibilities of the various industrial departments, makes poor areas the top priority for each industry’s and department’s development, and works hard to promote the development of water conservancy, transportation, electricity, land resources, education, health care, science and technology, culture, family planning and some other undertakings in poor areas. The state mobilizes and organizes all sectors of society to give various forms of support to poor areas in their development. Party and government departments, enterprises and public institutions give special support to designated poor areas, eastern and western China cooperate to reduce poverty, the army and armed police give their support, and all sectors of society participate in this program -- a poverty reduction model with Chinese characteristics, which helps poor areas to develop and poor farmers to increase their incomes.
Combining outside support with self-reliance. By way of special poverty reduction funds, transfer payments from the central finance, projects undertaken by various departments, social donations and introduction and utilization of foreign capital, the financial input to poor areas has been continuously increased. Constant exploration in establishing various poverty reduction models, such as participatory and integrated village development, small-sum loaning, and mutual aid funds among poor villages. Respect is shown to the principal role of the local cadres and masses in development-oriented poverty reduction for poor rural areas, and extensive efforts are made to bring into play their initiative, enthusiasm and creativity. The cadres and masses exert themselves constantly, and they do not wait for or depend on outside support, but work hard, take an active part in decision-making, and make every effort to lift their localities and themselves out of poverty and backwardness.
II. Achievements of the Development-oriented Poverty Reduction Program
Thanks to efforts made over the past decade, the problems of subsistence, food and clothing for China’ s rural residents have been basically solved, the production and living conditions of the poor have been markedly improved, infrastructure in poor areas has continuously improved, the level of social development has been enhanced, and ecological degradation has been initially brought under control.
The problems of subsistence, food and clothing for rural residents have been basically solved. In line with the increase of economic and social development level and based on the changes in price index, the state gradually raised the national poverty line for rural residents from 865 yuan in 2000 to 1,274 yuan in 2010. Based on this change, the poverty-stricken rural population decreased from 94.22 million at the end of 2000 to 26.88 million at the end of 2010; and their proportion in the total rural population decreased from 10.2 percent in 2000 to 2.8 percent in 2010.
Economy in poor areas has developed in an all-round way. The industrial structure in poor areas has been further optimized; specialty and competitive industries developed rapidly, and the comprehensive economic strength of poor counties grew constantly. From 2001 to 2010, 592 key counties in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs have seen their per-capita gross regional product grow from 2,658 yuan to 11,170 yuan -- an average annual growth of 17 percent, and per-capita local budgetary revenue grow from 123 yuan to 559 yuan - an average annual growth of 18.3 percent. The per-capita net income of farmers has grown from 1,276 yuan in 2001 to 3,273 yuan in 2010, an average annual increase of 11 percent (not taking inflation into account). All these figures of growth are all higher than the national average.
Production and living conditions in poor areas have been greatly improved. The state has constantly increased investment in infrastructure construction in poor areas to improve production and living conditions there. From 2002 to 2010, 592 key counties in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs saw their basic farmland increased by 52.456 million mu (approximately 3,497,067 ha), the mileage of newly constructed, renovated and extended roads by 952,000 km, and their buildings for education and health care by 35.061 million sq m, in addition to the solution of drinking-water problem for 56.757 million people and 49.993 million head of livestock. By the end of 2010, in the key counties in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs, 60.9 percent of rural households had access to tap water or well water, 88.1 percent of villages had access to roads, 98 percent had access to electricity, and 92.9 percent had access to telephones. In addition, their per-capita housing space reached 24.9 sq m, and 88.4 percent of the rural households had hygienic latrines.
Social undertakings in poor areas have made constant progress. Compulsory education in rural areas has been strengthened, and the work to eliminate illiteracy among young and middle-aged people has made great headway. By the end of 2010, in the key counties in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs, 97.7 percent of children aged between 7 and 15 were enrolled in school, close to the national average level; the illiteracy rate of young and middle-aged people had decreased to 7 percent, 5.4 percentage points lower than in 2002; and the average schooling time for the young and middle-aged had reached eight years. In addition, the new type of cooperative medical care system for rural residents had covered all the rural population, and the primary-level medical and health service system had been improved. By the end of 2010, in the key counties in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs, 93.3 percent of rural households had participated in the new cooperative medical care system, and 91.4 percent of rural residents were able to get timely medical service; every township had a hospital, and most administrative villages had a clinic. Population and family planning work, and the building of a public cultural service system in poor areas were strengthened.
Ecological degradation has been brought under initial control. From 2002 to 2010, in the key counties in the national development-oriented poverty reduction programs 149.235 million mu (or 9.949 million ha) of farmland was restored to forest or grassland, and 226.434 million mu (or 15.0956 million ha) of economic forest was planted. In these counties, the proportion of households whose drinking water sources were polluted decreased from 15.5 percent in 2002 to 5.1 percent in 2010, and that of households having difficulty in getting fuel decreased from 45 percent to 31.4 percent.
III. Special Poverty Reduction Programs
The Chinese government aims its poverty reduction programs at all people whose income is below the poverty line, while putting emphasis on the old revolutionary bases in the central and western regions, areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, border areas and destitute areas. It includes 592 counties in these areas in the key programs of the nation’ s poverty reduction effort. The central government and local governments at all levels formulate special programs, appropriate special funds and concentrate resources to improve infrastructure construction, develop specialty and competitive industries, improve social services and enhance the people’s quality in these areas. The local governments of other impoverished counties, townships and villages in the eastern, central and western regions are mainly responsible for their respective poverty reduction programs.
Over the past ten years, the central and local governments have been constantly adjusting their structures of financial expenditure and gradually increasing the financial input into poverty reduction programs. The financial input increased from 12.75 billion yuan in 2001 to 34.93 billion yuan in 2010, with an average annual growth rate of 11.9 percent, and the accumulative input totaled 204.38 billion yuan in these ten years. For a breakdown, funds appropriated by the central government for poverty reduction programs increased from 10.002 billion yuan in 2001 to 22.27 billion yuan in 2010, with an average annual growth of 9.3 percent, and the accumulative input reached 144.04 billion yuan over these ten years. The distribution of poverty relief funds reflected the priority principle. The accumulative financial input to the key counties in the national and provincial development-oriented poverty reduction programs over these ten years reached 145.72 billion yuan, accounting for 71.3 percent of the total input and with the average in-put for each county reaching 136 million yuan; the central government appropriated a total of 135.62 billion yuan for poverty reduction in 22 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government), including 87.7 billion yuan for 12 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) in the western regions.
Implementing comprehensive development-oriented poverty reduction in villages. To promote overall economic and social development in poverty-stricken areas, the state designated 148,000 impoverished villages nationwide in 2001, and formulated poverty reduction programs for each and every village covering basic farmland, drinking water for people and livestock, roads, income of poor villagers, social undertakings and other areas. The government pooled and allocated funds for the implementation of the programs on a yearly basis to increase the income of impoverished people, upgrade infrastructure, develop public welfare, and improve the production and living standards. By the end of 2010, some 126,000 villages had implemented the programs, and the villages in old revolutionary bases, areas inhabited by smaller minority groups and border areas had basically completed the work.
Strengthening training of the labor force. The development of human resources is an effective means of enhancing development capability. Since 2004, the central government has appropriated a total of three billion yuan in poverty reduction funds for the “Dew Program,” which focuses on training labor force from poor rural families in technical skills and practical agricultural techniques so that they can find better-paying jobs. By the year 2010, more than four million people from poor rural families had received such training, and 80 percent of them found jobs outside agriculture. A sample survey revealed that workers who had received training earned 300-400 yuan per month more than those who hadn’t. The training programs not only helped employment and salary growth in poor areas, they also provided chances for the workers to get access to new skills and new concepts, thus broadening their horizons and enhance their confidence. In 2010, in an attempt to promote employment the state began to carry out a pilot project that provides direct subsidy for high-school graduates from poor families to pursue vocational education.
Poverty reduction through education. Over the past decade, the state has been vigorously developing education, helping large numbers of students from economically poor rural families acquire necessary skills through vocational education and find stable employment in cities/towns, thus shaking off or alleviating poverty in these families. From 2001 to 2010, some 42.89 million students graduated from secondary vocational schools, and most of them were from rural families or impoverished urban families. The state constantly improves the subsidy system for poor students in compulsory education, senior high school education and higher education to relieve the financial burden on poor families. The government also builds schools for immigrants, and encourages immigration for ecological protection purpose.
Promoting poverty reduction with industrialization. Combining such programs as comprehensive promotion of poverty reduction in villages, experimental development of adjacent areas, poverty relief through science and technology, rendering support to impoverished farmers, constructing industrial bases, encouraging the use of advanced equipment and technologies in agricultural production and developing the rural cooperative economy of scale, China has endeavored to enhance the efficiency and specialization of industrial development in poverty-stricken areas. Over the past decade, the state has helped the poverty-stricken areas develop potato cultivation, economic trees and fruits, grassland husbandry, cotton planting and other leading industries. Of them, potato production and processing has become a special and competitive industry for the poor areas to guarantee food security, ward off droughts and other natural disasters and get rid of poverty.
Implementing work relief. The work-relief policy was initiated in the 1980s in rural areas to mainly support economic development in poverty-stricken areas and the construction of small-scale infrastructure projects in rural areas related to poverty reduction, including building of roads in counties, townships and villages, works of farmland irrigation, drinking water projects for the people and livestock, basic farmland capital construction, grassland construction, comprehensive improvement of small river basins, etc. From 2001 to 2010, more than 55 billion yuan was earmarked by the central government as work-relief funds, effectively improving the production and living conditions in poverty-stricken areas.
Relocating impoverished populations from environmentally unfriendly areas. The voluntary relocation of impoverished populations from areas with harsh living conditions and natural resource-poor areas is an important way to improve their living environment and development conditions. By 2010, the Chinese government had relocated 7.7 million impoverished people, effectively improving their housing, communications, power supply and other living conditions. In the process of advancing industrialization and urbanization, some impoverished areas have combined such poverty-relief relocation with the construction of county seats, central towns and industrial parks, converting cultivated land back to forests and grasslands, migration for ecological purpose, merger of villages and disaster prevention, in an effort to improve public services for these people while promoting the employment of impoverished farmers in urban areas and sectors outside agriculture.
Financial poverty reduction. Shortages in funds have always been an important factor holding back the survival and development of the poor. Since 2006, the state has tried out an experimental mutual funding program in 13,600 impoverished villages, allocating 150,000 yuan to each of the villages to support local production in line with the principles of “owned by the people, used by the people, managed by the people, enjoyed by the people, cyclical usage and spiral development,” thus establishing a long-term working mechanism for the use of the fund. China has also carried out reforms in interest discounts for poverty-relief loans in an effort to guide and inspire financial institutions to grant more loans of interest discounts. From 2001 to 2010, the central government appropriated in total 5.415 billion yuan of poverty reduction funds with discount interests, and granted nearly 200 billion yuan of poverty reduction loans. The comprehensive reform of the state administrative system of poverty reduction loans in 2008, in particular, further motivated local governments and financial institutions to engage in development-oriented poverty reduction, and effectively helped needy people to get such loans by introducing the market competition mechanism, expanding the operational authority of the loan-issuing bodies, and delegating greater power to lower levels in the management of interest-discounted funds, among other measures.
Pilot projects of poverty reduction in special areas. In order to solve major problems hindering the development of poverty-stricken areas, the Chinese government carried out development-oriented poverty-relief work in some special areas in light of the local characteristics. The following are some of the examples: major infrastructure construction projects in Donglan County, Bama County and Fengshan County in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; a pilot project combining development-oriented poverty reduction with the comprehensive prevention and control of Kaschin-Beck Disease in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province; a pilot project combining poverty reduction with ecological construction in the rocky desert areas of Qinglong County in Guizhou Province; a pilot project of poverty reduction in the border areas of Akqi County in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region; a comprehensive poverty reduction program for the Blang ethnic group and the mountain tribes of the Yao ethnic group in Yunnan Province; and the combination of post-quake reconstruction with disaster prevention and reduction of impoverished areas in the quake-stricken Wenchuan of Sichuan Province and Yushu of Qinghai Province to promote their post-quake reconstruction in an all-round way. Through these pilot projects, the state explored the paths and accumulated experience for poverty reduction work suited to local conditions.
IV. Poverty Reduction by Industries
Poverty is the result of numerous factors, including historical, economic, geographic and natural ones. The Chinese government, proceeding from the actual conditions of the poverty-stricken areas, upholds the principle of comprehensive improvement, and gives full play to the advantages of related government departments to carry out poverty reduction by industries.
Promoting agricultural technology. Focusing on the specialty and competitive industries of poverty-stricken areas, the state has popularized advanced practical technologies of various types to increase the production of crop cultivation and animal, poultry and fish breeding through such means as signing of scientific and technological contracts, provision of both technological and material support, and building of demonstration models. The state also provides large-scale training in rural areas, mainly targeted at the young and middle-aged, in order to bring to the fore large numbers of good hands in farming and breeding trades, those who can lead other people to get rich, farming and animal husbandry technicians, skilled craftsmen and enterprise managerial staff badly needed for agricultural industrialization, leaders of farmers’ cooperative organizations and rural agents.
Improving traffic conditions in poverty-stricken areas. Great efforts have been made to promote the construction of asphalt (cement) roads in the townships (towns) and villages that form separate administrative units to satisfy the basic needs of the poverty-stricken villagers to travel; to strengthen the renovation of unsafe road bridges and construction of safety-enhancement projects in rural areas to improve the conditions of rural highway networks and improve road safety and overall road service in rural areas; and to promote the construction of passenger terminals in townships (towns), strengthen road construction in port areas and “Red tourism” routes, and support the construction of important water-transport channels and inland waterway transport facilities that provide convenience to the local people.
Strengthening construction of water conservancy projects in poverty-stricken areas. The government has made great efforts to solve the problem of drinking water for people and livestock in impoverished rural areas, and to proactively promote the construction of safe drinking water projects there; to promote continued construction of supporting facilities and water-conservation renovation in the various irrigation areas, and to carry out the construction of small water cellars, small ponds, small reservoirs, small pumping stations and small canals, known as the “five small projects,” in accordance with local conditions; if conditions are right, to build projects to divert water from water-rich areas to impoverished areas to tackle their problem of droughts and water shortages; to strengthen the construction of flood-control projects and quicken the risk-removing reinforcement of unsafe reservoirs, harnessing of medium and small rivers and repair of hydraulic projects destroyed by floods and natural disasters; and to strengthen the protection of headwaters and the prevention and control of water pollution.
Solving the problem of power supply to areas with no access to electricity. The state has mobilized resources to implement the first and second phases of the rural power grid renovation project, the project of rural power grid improvement in the central and western regions of the country, project of delivering electricity to every household, project of power grid construction in areas without access to electricity, and a new round of rural power grid renovation and upgrading projects and the project of electrification of new rural areas to enhance the reliability and capacity of rural power grids; to develop power generation with solar energy and wind power in light of local conditions to provide electricity for administrative and natural villages that have no access to electric power; promote the county-wide electrification program with power from hydropower resources under the program of building new rural areas; and strengthen the building of the technical service system of renewable energies together with the construction of rural ecological energy supplies using methane, fuel-efficient stoves and small hydropower stations to replace the use of fuels.
Rebuilding dilapidated houses in rural areas. Since 2008, the state has undertaken pilot projects to rebuild dilapidated houses in rural areas, aiming at ensuring basic housing safety for the poor in rural areas. Over the past three years, the state has earmarked in total 11.7 billion yuan of allowances to help 2,034,000 poor farmers’ households rebuild unsafe houses. In 2010, the program had covered all counties in land border areas, counties in the western regions, key counties for national poverty reduction and development work, counties designated by the State Council to enjoy the preferential policies adopted for the Western Development pro-gram and regiment-level farms of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
Poverty reduction with science and technology. The state dispatches to rural areas science and technology teams composed of experts and young and middle-aged intellectuals with practical experience from universities, colleges and research institutions, and appoints scientists as resident deputy heads of key counties for poverty reduction work to help study and formulate poverty reduction plans through science and technology, select scientific and technological development programs, introduce advanced practical technologies, organize training in science and technology, solve key technological problems in industrial development, and improve the technological level of industrial development in poverty-stricken areas. The state also launches technology entrepreneurship by technological personnel in rural areas, encourages scientific and technological workers to form interest groups with farmers to start businesses and provide related services, and guides technology, information, capital, management and other modern production factors to move to impoverished areas to promote local economic and social development, and help farmers increase their incomes and achieve prosperity.
Developing social undertakings in poverty-stricken areas. The state establishes funding mechanisms for compulsory education in rural areas, and increases subsidies to students from poor families to alleviate the burden of education on impoverished areas; implements classroom renovation project for rural junior high schools in the central and western regions, schoolhouse safety project for primary and secondary schools throughout the country and renovation project of rural schools with weak facilities to enhance the construction of dormitories, canteens and other basic infrastructural facilities and improve teaching conditions; implements modern distance education in rural primary and secondary schools to ensure the sharing of high quality educational resources between urban and rural areas and among different regions; strengthens the construction of three-tier medical service system in rural areas and the construction of township hospitals and village clinics in key counties covered in the national poverty reduction and development work; implements the project that offers free training to medical students oriented to work in rural areas, with the focus on the training of medical workers to work in hospitals at and below the township level; makes greater efforts to train qualified country doctors and midwives, and encourages graduates of medical schools to work at township-level hospitals; further increases govern-mental support to new-type rural cooperative medicare system; establishes and improves population and family planning service networks; comprehensively implements the support and rewarding system for rural households which follow the family planning policies, and promotes the family planning project in the western regions with the theme “fewer children, quicker prosperity.” The state also strengthens the construction of public cultural service networks in rural areas, focuses on the building of comprehensive cultural centers in townships, and organizes the implementation of the national cultural information resource sharing, books for villages, radio and TV access to every village, rural film showing and “rural community library” projects.
Strengthening ecological construction in poverty-stricken areas. The state has made efforts to consolidate the achievements of the farmland-to-forest project, improves the subsidy policy, and extends the deadline for such subsidies; has started to implement the pastureland-to-grassland project by adopting such measures as sealing off mountains and hills for natural grass growth and banning grazing to protect the vegetation cover of natural grasslands. It has launched pilot projects in Tibet Autonomous Region and other areas to subsidize people who protect the grassland ecology; organized the implementation of the Beijing and Tianjin sandstorm source control project and made efforts to develop ecological specialty industries in project areas to realize the organic integration of ecological construction and economic development. It has taken comprehensive measures to reverse the trend of desertification in Karst areas to realize the integration of industrial development and development-oriented poverty reduction by closing off hills for the growth of trees and grass, planting trees and grass, developing herbivore animal husbandry, constructing terrace-fields on sloping land and building small hydraulic and water conservation projects.
It has implemented the ecological protection and construction project at the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers to strengthen ecological protection in these areas through the conversion of farmland to grassland, immigration for ecological protection purpose, prevention and control of rodent damage, precipitation enhancement and other measures. The state has enhanced the ecological compensation system, and strengthened the protection of natural forests, the protection and restoration of wetlands, the conservation of wild animals and plants, and the construction of nature reserves to maintain biological diversity.
The state has included development-oriented poverty reduction schemes for ethnic minorities, women and the disabled in its planning, made unified arrangements for their implementation, given priority to their implementation when all conditions are equal, and strengthened support for these groups. It has organized the implementation of a special program to revitalize border areas and enrich the local people, given support to border areas in their efforts to speed up their economic and social development, and helped the people in border areas to increase their incomes and achieve prosperity, and the scope of the support covers all land border counties and border farms of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. The total amount of money invested in this program from 2000 to 2010 reached 2.21 billion yuan. The state has rendered special support to 22 ethnic groups, each of which has a population less than 100,000, has worked out and implemented the Program to Support the Development of Ethnic Minorities with Small Populations (2005-2010), and allocated 3.751 billion yuan in support of these smaller ethnic groups and the areas where they live in compact communities to help quicken their development. The state has organized the implementation of the Program for the Development of Chinese Women (2001-2010), prioritized poverty reduction for women and the reduction of the number of impoverished women, strengthened support to women in poverty, helped and supported impoverished women to start poverty reduction programs, and encouraged and supported the development of poverty reduction economic entities with women as the focus. Since 2009, the state has also organized the implementation of programs of interest-discount small-sum loans with guaranty. By the end of July 2011, it had issued a total of 40.993 billion yuan in such loans, including 25.923 billion yuan for women in rural areas, which has ensured impoverished women’ s access to poverty reduction resources and made them direct beneficiaries of poverty reduction achievements. The state has also implemented the Development-oriented Poverty Reduction Program for Disabled People in Rural Areas (2001-2010), determining poverty reduction pro-grams and methods in accordance with the characteristics of disabled people and local conditions, with primary attention being paid to solving the problem of sufficient food and clothing for disabled people in poverty and bridging the gap between the living standard of the disabled people and that of the general public.
V. Social Involvement in Poverty Reduction
The Chinese nation has a fine tradition of helping the poor and assisting the needy, and the Chinese government has always attached great importance to carrying forward this tradition. All social sectors, mobilized and organized by the government, actively participate in the work of development-oriented poverty reduction in an effort to promote this undertaking.
To promote the development of the old revolutionary base areas, ethnic-minority areas, border areas and poor areas, China has put energetic efforts into poverty reduction work in some key poverty-stricken counties in those areas, with help coming from a number of organizations, including all departments and units of the Party central committee and state organs, people’s organizations, institutions managed in accordance with the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Civil Servants, key large-sized state-owned enterprises, state-holding financial institutions, central committees of non-Communist parties and All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce, and state key research institutions and universities. Over the past few years, those units and organizations have provided various forms of help to their targeted recipients in such aspects as sending cadres to the aided counties, helping them with infrastructure construction, industrialized operations, training of labor force and provision of labor services to other places, investment introduction, ecological construction and medical health services. They also provide their targeted recipients with assistance in culture, education, science and technology, in addition to aid in disaster relief. At present, the number of such units and organizations has reached 272, and the number of key poverty-stricken counties that have received aid has reached 481, accounting for 81.25 percent of the total number of such counties. From 2002 to 2010, these departments and units sent in total 3,559 cadres to do poverty reduction work in their aid-targeted poverty-stricken counties, ploughed in 9.09 billion yuan-worth of direct aid, both in cash and in kind, helped their recipients of aid introduce 33.91 billion yuan of support funds, and trained 1.684 million people of different caliber for the aid-recipients. Making full use of their own advantages in human resources, fund raising, information and knowledge, the central committees of all the non-Communist parties and All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce have been paired up with some poverty-stricken areas so as to effectively carry out poverty reduction work.
(Table 1. Central committees of the non-Communist parties, the All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce and key poverty-stricken areas they are paired to help)
Pairing the more-developed provinces and municipalities in the east with the impoverished regions in the west in poverty reduction is a policy adopted by the Chinese government in its efforts to achieve common prosperity. Since 1996, the government has made arrangement for 15 economically more developed provinces and municipalities in the east to help 11 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) in the west get rid of poverty. The basic framework of this east-help-west cooperation is mainly comprised of government assistance, enterprise cooperation, social aid and human resource support. From 2003 to 2010, some 2,592 cadres were sent from the east to the west to hold temporary leading posts there, and 3,610 were sent from the west to the east for the same purpose. About 4.44 billion yuan-worth of assistance funds was provided and 5,684 enterprises were recommended by governments of the eastern regions for cooperation in this regard, resulting in 249.76 billion yuan actually ploughed in and 1.42 billion yuan in social donations, in addition to 226,000 technical personnel trained and 4.672 million people from the poverty-stricken areas providing labor services elsewhere.
(Table 2. East-west aid pair-ups in 2001-2010)
The military and armed police force are an important force in China’ s poverty reduction efforts. Over the past decade, following the development-oriented poverty reduction program of the state and the localities where they are stationed, the military and armed police force, giving full play to their particular advantages, have taken the initiative in participating in the poverty reduction work. They have helped with infrastructure construction, including basic farmland development, irrigation works, country roads and improvement of small river basins. At the same time, they have donated funds to help education in poor areas, provided scientific and technological services, as well as medical care services.
(Table 3. Poverty reduction work done by the military and armed police force from 2001 to 2010)
People’s organizations, social organizations, private enterprises and the general public also take an active part in the poverty reduction drive. In line with the actual conditions and specific requirements of the impoverished regions and people, these organizations have helped with industrial development, infrastructure construction, education and public health development, improvement of production and living conditions and ecological environment construction by pairing with the places in need of help, implementing poverty reduction projects and holding specific aid activities. They have also mobilized the public-spirited personages with professional skills to engage in volunteer work to help people out of poverty. The private enterprises have been actively fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities and engaged in poverty reduction by donating money, hiring workers and setting up businesses and training bases.
(Table 4. Poverty reduction work done by some people’ s organizations and social organizations)
VI. International Cooperation
The Chinese government is committed to solving the problem of poverty with its own efforts while learning from other countries’ advanced concepts and successful approaches in the course of poverty reduction. It actively shares with them China’s experience and practice in development-oriented poverty reduction, and provided foreign aid within its ability.
In the early 1990s, China began to make use of foreign funds in its fight against poverty. It has conducted successful cooperation in poverty reduction projects with the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Asian Development Bank and other international organizations, as well as UK, Germany, Japan and non-governmental organizations in other countries. According to incomplete statistics, by 2010 a total of 1.4 billion U.S. dollars in foreign funds had been poured into poverty reduction in China, and the aggregate direct investment had reached nearly 20 billion yuan if supporting funds from the Chinese government are taken into account. About 110 foreign-funded poverty reduction projects had been implemented, covering 20 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) and more than 300 counties in central and western China, and benefiting nearly 20 million impoverished people.
Poverty reduction with foreign funds has been an important part of China’s development-oriented poverty reduction drive, in the implementation of which China has brought in from abroad some advanced concepts and successful approaches in its efforts to reduce poverty, such as participatory poverty reduction, small-sum loans, project appraisal and management, and poverty monitoring and evaluation. These advanced concepts and methods, gradually put into China’s poverty reduction practice, have played a positive role in innovating the mechanism of development-oriented poverty reduction, improving the work of poverty reduction and tapping human resources in this field.
Over the years, China has taken an active part in the international poverty reduction cause, helping set up an international exchange and cooperation platform for poverty reduction, and sharing with other developing countries its poverty reduction experience in order to seek common development. In 2004, the Chinese government co-sponsored with the World Bank the Global Conference on Poverty Reduction in Shanghai, and established, together with the UNDP and other international organizations, the International Poverty Reduction Center in China. Since 2007, the Chinese government and the United Nations System in China have convened every year the Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17) to discuss the situation and problems of international poverty reduction. The Chinese government has also organized the China-ASEAN Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction, which has promoted poverty reduction cooperation between China and the ASEAN countries, facilitating the process of poverty reduction and promoting regional development, stability and prosperity. In 2010, the Chinese government hosted the China-Africa Poverty Reduction and Development Conference jointly with relevant countries and international organizations, and stressed the “seeking development through reform” approach to reducing poverty and making progress toward the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. In recent years, the Chinese government has completed more than 40 research projects on poverty reduction theories and policies of both China and abroad, trained 720 middle- and high-ranking officials from 91 developing countries, held more than 100 high-level dialogue sessions, seminars, forums, visits and bilateral exchanges related to poverty reduction, and signed cooperation agreements or established cooperation centers for poverty reduction with other developing countries, including Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Tanzania and Mozambique.
Development-oriented poverty reduction is extremely difficult for a developing country like China, with a population of over 1.3 billion. Nevertheless, China has made strenuous efforts in this regard, which has resulted in great achievements.
The Chinese government is clearly aware of the fact that, although China’ s overall national strength has been greatly improved, China remains a developing country with low per-capita income and is faced with the serious challenge of narrowing the gaps between urban and rural areas, between different regions, and between the rich and poor. At present, the deep-seated obstacles hindering the development of China’ s poverty-stricken areas are still there, such as the large size of the impoverished population, comparative deprivation, frequent cases of sinking back into poverty, and underdevelopment of regions with special difficulties that lie in vast and contiguous stretches. Therefore, development-oriented poverty reduction is and will continue to be an arduous and long-term task for the Chinese government.
Now at a new historical starting point, China will continue to adhere to the Scientific Outlook on Development, attach even more importance to development-oriented poverty reduction, comprehensively implement the Outline for Development-oriented Poverty Reduction for China’s Rural Areas (2011-2020), consolidate the achievements already made in solving the food and clothing problem, help people shake off poverty and get well-off more quickly, improve the ecological environment of the poor areas and improve their development capability, narrow the development gap, and advance poverty reduction to a higher level.
As a responsible country, China will continue to shoulder its international duties suitable to its development phase and development level, actively participate in international poverty reduction, share advanced poverty reduction concepts and experiences with other countries, and conduct exchanges and cooperation in this field. China is also keen to continue working with the international community to create a beautiful and poverty-free world where people enjoy common prosperity.