It is one thing to make promises, but quite another to keep them.
The Chinese government decided to eradicate poverty by 2020 — the target year for China to become a “moderately prosperous” society — and the country is confident.
China’s economic growth has been astonishing over the past three decades, but the economy must provide for 1.3 billion people. The gap between rich and poor remains as wide in China as it does in many other countries, and the Chinese government knows it.
But there have been more than 55 million success stories in the past four years. That’s twice the population of Texas.
And this drive will not stop until the day dawns when the last person living in poverty finds his or her rightful place as a citizen of a well-off society.
China uses a combination of incentives and policy to tackle the problem, with “precision” the key.
Precision is the target: spending money exactly where it is needed, and no more than is needed. It is the very poorest of people who should feel the most benefit.
“You should not bomb fleas with grenades,” means appropriate resources should be used in the right place at the right time.
Governments have compiled databases of how many people are living in poverty and why. Timetables have been set.
Projects have been arranged according to the specifics of every region or even every family. Better use of resources leads to more, better jobs. People must move to places where jobs are to be found, and where public services are fit for purpose.
Proper training will produce an army of workers with the skills that modern, sustainable industries need. Special care must be given to those children left behind as their parents seek ways of working to give them a better life. What the government gives in support should not be taken away again in taxation.
Policy is just the first step. Implementation of those policies is the responsibility of cadres of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Cadres at all levels must put the people at center of their work. They must seek out the very poorest and work with them. They must meet their poverty alleviation targets or find themselves in hot water.
The work in one place is evaluated by officials from other places to ensure impartiality. These assessments are an important yardstick in advancing careers.
Local officials must interact eagerly with people and businesses to work out solutions and mobilize all available resources including money, markets and NGOs.
Corruption, fraud or embezzlement of poverty-relief funds will be dealt with in the most severe ways.
It is a down-to-earth style and hard work that has led to a level of progress almost incredible to many other countries.
Declaring a “war on poverty” is easy. The hard part is addressing the root causes of poverty.
China, the world’s largest laboratory of economic, political and social experimentation, needs courage and wisdom.
Hundreds of reform measures have covered education, healthcare, finance and innovation. Most have proved helpful.
After internet training, for instance, tens of thousands of simple farmers have begun to sell their products online and seen their incomes increase.
China’s model may not work in other countries due to different systems and development stages, but it may inspire the world that, as long as a government makes real promises and takes real action, poverty can be conquered.