Although China has made continuous efforts in poverty alleviation in the past, it has never been able to offer as much financial or policy support as it does now to help people get out of poverty, a senior official of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region said.
“The new round of poverty alleviation is very different from before. China has reached the stage that it has a strong base to tackle the poverty issue from the root. More important, the central government has vowed to win the battle against poverty by 2020 and has made it a major goal,” Ma Hancheng, vice-chairman of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and a deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress, said on the sidelines of the ongoing session in Beijing.
As a landlocked region, Ningxia has long been hampered in development by poor transportation infrastructure and a lack of water resources. Also, a large number of people in rural areas have been living in extreme poverty for generations. Now they say they have seen hope of leaving their impoverished lives behind for good, Ma said.
China has adopted targeted poverty relief measures for about six years and launched the fight against poverty for more than three years. “Besides improving infrastructure, the new round of poverty alleviation particularly focuses on solving problems that concern people the most, such as education, medical service and housing, so they don’t need to worry about anything else but increasing their income,” Ma said.
Beyond the support of the central and local governments, it comes down to the people to lift themselves out of poverty, he said.
“We will achieve the goal set by the central government on time, but we aren’t here to hand out money for lazy people just to meet the target,” he said. “So we have set up centers for the villagers to experience practical poverty alleviation programs. Also, we let people who did well in poverty alleviation share their stories, influence others, show their success to the people and lead them to a better life.”
What the local governments need to do is offer people insights on the things they’re not aware of, such as getting involved in new businesses and offering them new career ideas, Ma said. “We shouldn’t simply feed their mouths.”
Currently, about 124,000 people in Ningxia live in poverty, and 100,000 of them are expected to be lifted out of poverty by the end of this year, Ma said.
He said the regional government is also working on measures to prevent people from slipping back into dire straits, which is as challenging as getting them out of poverty in the first place.
“We plan to integrate some of the effective poverty alleviation measures with China’s rural revitalization plan to prevent poverty from happening. The plan can also help to solve the country’s problem of unbalanced development in the long run,” Ma said.
Meanwhile, China has set a target to reduce the rural poor population by more than 10 million and take 300 counties off the country’s list of impoverished areas in 2019, Liu Yongfu, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, said at a news conference on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the 13th NPC.