BEIJING — Poverty reduction is the most telling evidence of China’s progress in human rights, as the number of citizens China has raised from poverty accounts for 70 percent of the world’s total, said a white paper issued on Oct 17.
Over the past 30 years or more since the launch of reform and opening up, more than 700 million Chinese people have been raised from poverty, said the white paper published by the State Council Information Office under the title “China’s Progress in Poverty Reduction and Human Rights.”
“After years of trials and experimentation, China has accumulated a wealth of experience in promoting human rights through development-oriented poverty reduction, and established a new model of development-oriented poverty alleviation with Chinese characteristics,” the paper noted.
To fight poverty, the Chinese government assigned special poverty relief funds amounting to 189.84 billion yuan (about $28.17 billion) from 2011 to 2015, with an average annual growth rate of 14.5 percent. The government will allocate more funds to keep pace with the needs of poverty relief in the coming five years, said the paper.
By the end of 2015, China still had 55.75 million people living in poverty, equivalent to the entire population of a medium-sized country. The country plans to lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020.
The Chinese government prioritized education in its efforts to eradicate poverty during the 2011-2015 period, said the paper.
To ensure poor people’s access to education, the government has taken measures to promote balanced compulsory education, bridge the education gap between urban and rural areas, improve education infrastructure in impoverished areas and allotting living subsidies to the students, the paper said.
In 2012-2015, the central government injected 83.1 billion yuan in renovating schools for compulsory education and earmarked 14 billion yuan to build dormitory buildings for some 300,000 teachers in remote rural areas, the document showed.
In less-developed central and western China, the number of children enrolled in kindergartens rose from 21.53 million in 2011 to 27.89 million in 2015, up about 30 percent.
The country offered cost-of-living subsidies for rural teachers in contiguous poverty-stricken areas, benefiting over one million teachers in 600 counties.
A directional enrollment program was carried out in poverty-stricken areas, enrolling 183,000 students in 832 impoverished counties from 2012 to 2015.
In 2013-2015, the average annual growth rate of rural students from poor areas enrolled in key universities was kept above 10 percent, according to the document.
CHILDREN, MINORS PROTECTED
In order to ensure children’s rights to social security, education and other public services are effectively protected in its poverty relief efforts, China has introduced an appropriate and all-inclusive welfare and service system for children and carried out experimental work on encouraging social protection of minors, said the paper.
The country also promoted the establishment of a system for rescuing and protecting minors and a children’s welfare and protection network at the county, township and village levels, the document showed.
Since 2011, more than half of China’s counties have implemented a program of nutrition improvement for rural students receiving compulsory education, with the central government spending 67 billion yuan benefiting 33.6 million rural students.
As of 2012, the government carried out a nutrition improvement program for children in poor areas, providing free nutrition packages to infants aged six to 24 months and popularizing knowledge on healthy feeding among guardians.
In 2015 alone, the central government allocated subsidies of 500 million yuan to this program, benefiting 2.11 million children in 341 counties, the white paper said.
INTL COOPERATION DEEPENED
While combating poverty at home, China also actively helps other developing countries to address their poverty problems. Over more than six decades since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has provided nearly 400 billion yuan to 166 countries and international organizations, sent more than 600,000 aid workers, given medical assistance to 69 countries, and aided more than 120 developing countries in realizing the Millennium Goals, said the paper.
In addition, on seven occasions China has unconditionally canceled interest-free loans to heavily indebted countries and least developed countries, said the paper.
The white paper said that China will strengthen exchanges and cooperation with developing countries and international organizations in the fields of poverty alleviation and human rights.
The country will share advanced concepts and experience in those fields through foreign aid, project cooperation, technology transfer and think-tank exchanges, said the paper.
China’s poverty-reduction commitment embodies its sense of responsibility to the world as a major country, the paper noted.
The document said that China will continue to honor international obligations commensurate with the state and status of its own development.
The UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 shows that the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in China fell by half from 61 percent in 1990 to below 30 percent in 2002, and on down to 4.2 percent in 2014, said the white paper.
MORE TO BE DONE
China has entered the crucial stage of poverty reduction as the fight against poverty remains tough despite remarkable achievements in the past, according to the white paper.
The country still has a large population living in profound poverty and the solutions to their problems are becoming increasingly costly and complex, said the white paper.
“This will prove a hard nut to crack,” the white paper said, referring to the country’s poverty reduction task in future.
Most of them live in extreme poverty and have weak capacity for development, while the time pressure is huge for China to accomplish its target of lifting all the poor out of poverty by 2020, the paper said.
Moreover, a large number of those who just escaped poverty can be pushed back into it as a result of natural disasters, illness, or high costs of education, marriage and housing, according to the paper.
To eradicate poverty by 2020, China has pledged to lift 10 million people out of poverty every year from 2016 through developing specialty industries, transfer employment, relocation and social security coverage.
The central government will continue to increase transfer payments to impoverished areas and ensure substantial growth in its funding for poverty alleviation, said the paper.
Investments within the central budget will be tilted in support of the poor, the white paper noted.