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Opinion
Internet Plus Helps With Poverty Alleviation
Internet-based poverty alleviation method can help aid get to exactly those who need it
By Lan Xinzhen | NO.32 July 27, 2017

The Chinese Government has been pushing forward its Internet Plus strategy in the form of promoting the combination of mobile Internet, cloud computing, big data and Internet of things together with modern manufacturing. It has also combined Internet Plus with poverty alleviation work.

People living in poverty are connected by means of the Internet and big data to people willing to help them. In this way, those who have something to offer can accurately locate those who need it. The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development has opened a website—Social Participation in Poverty Alleviation and Development of China, which has five functional sections: donation, malls, crowd-financing, exhibitions and case studies. Citizens can browse the website to find the people or family to whom they want to give a helping hand.

According to this website, by July 5, 40,000 poverty-stricken families and 100,000 people willing to offer help had registered. The families had made 50,000 requests for help, 10,000 of which had been met. In addition, more than 20,000 enterprises had voluntarily paired up with 20,000 registered poverty-stricken villages.

These figures show that China's society is not short of philanthropy and power to help those in poverty. Missing until now were effective and reliable platforms and channels to enable people to get involved. The government's involvement in opening the poverty alleviation website ensures the website's reliability, while the five platforms offer ways to participate.

China's poverty-stricken population is scattered in rural areas. According to statistics from the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, by the end of 2016, the country had 43.35 million poverty-stricken people in the countryside. The target is to lift all of these people out of poverty by 2020. Internet-based poverty alleviation will be an effective supplement to the government's poverty reduction efforts, involving more social power in accurately targeted poverty alleviation.

China has the largest number of netizens in the world. When people have access to real and accurate information on poverty-stricken families, help can be delivered in a convenient way. This is the target of Internet-based poverty alleviation. Within three months, 20 percent of the information released by poverty-stricken families had been answered.

The Internet-based poverty alleviation model has another function: e-business, which provides jobs and also channels for distribution of goods in poverty-stricken regions.

In some places, poverty does not stem from lack of natural resources; it arises because people are cut off from the outside world. As a result, agricultural produce goes to waste in local fields instead of reaching markets. The government has launched Internet-related projects for the public good to make e-business and information services possible in rural areas. In 2016, the authorities helped more than 30,000 poverty-stricken villages get access to optical fiber Internet connection. The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) organized well-known e-business platforms to open channels devoted to poverty-stricken regions. MOFCOM statistics show that 120,000 poverty-stricken families joined the e-business sector in 2016. The government's plan is to take e-business to more than 80 percent of villages by 2020.

China has set an example for the rest of the world in terms of poverty alleviation. There are still many places facing extreme poverty. They have the right to get rid of poverty with government help, as the Chinese people have.

The Internet Plus model is absolutely replicable. International organizations such as the UN and countries with a high proportion of people living in poverty can borrow this model to carry out poverty alleviation efforts. This model can be seen as a supplement to existing methods and also an innovation. Different from the practice of providing capital and materials, the Internet-based poverty alleviation method can help international aid get to exactly those who need it. This accuracy will encourage more people to participate in international poverty alleviation efforts.

Copyedited by Chris Surtees

Comments to lanxinzhen@bjreview.com

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