China commends role models in its fight against absolute poverty
The ceremony honored role models, but equally importantly, it acknowledged the collective effort of China's government and its people in accomplishing this momentous task
By Xia Yuanyuan  ·  2021-03-26  ·   Source: VOL.13 APRIL 2021
Model poverty fighters are honored at a national commendation conference marking China’s achievements in poverty eradication in Beijing on February 25 (XINHUA)

Sitting in a wheelchair, 63-year-old Zhang Guimei received a medal and certificate from Chinese President Xi Jinping at a national commendation conference marking China's achievements in poverty eradication held in Beijing on February 25.

Zhang fully deserves her honorary title - a national role model for poverty alleviation - having dedicated 40 years of her life to helping and motivating young girls from impoverished families in the mountainous areas of Yunnan Province to pursue higher education. Her dedication changed their destinies, and their descendants will have more opportunities as a result.

Zhang is just one of many model poverty fighters devoted to the country's anti-poverty drive. A total of 1,981 people, including 10 model poverty fighters, and 1,501 collective units were awarded at the ceremony. Most of the recipients work at the grassroots level and on the frontline of poverty reduction. They include villagers, Party members dispatched to villages to help local people fight poverty, grassroots officials and college researchers.

The ceremony honored role models, but equally importantly, it acknowledged the collective effort of China's government and its people in accomplishing this momentous task. In his speech, Xi said the "complete victory" in the fight against poverty was achieved through joint efforts from all ethnic groups, which is another miracle that will "go down in history."

Striking achievements

On a winter day in December 2012, Xi visited Luotuowan and Gujiatai, two impoverished villages deep in the Taihang Mountains of Hebei Province, shortly after he was elected general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

Chatting with villagers, Xi was particularly concerned with difficulties they faced in their daily lives, such as problems relating to their income, food, education and medical care.

Knowing what it was like to be in penury, Xi was determined to end it for all Chinese. He sounded a call to end poverty nationwide.

At the time, China still had 98.99 million people living below the national poverty line. Xi pledged that all the rural poor will shake off poverty to usher in a prosperous society in all respects when the Party celebrates its centenary in 2021.

Over the past eight years, the CPC Central Committee has prioritized poverty alleviation in its work agenda and viewed the effort as the bottom line in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

During that period, Xi chaired seven symposiums on poverty reduction and made over 50 inspection trips to poor areas, visiting all of the country's 14 extremely poor regional clusters.

The needs of food, clothing, compulsory education, basic healthcare and housing security have been met, with tailored medical treatment offered to over 20 million impoverished patients. Social aid programs have covered over 24 million people and subsidies are provided to people living in difficult circumstances and people with disabilities.

Over the past eight years, the final 98.99 million rural residents living below the current poverty line have all been lifted out of poverty. All 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 villages have also been removed from the poverty list. Dilapidated homes of 7.9 million households, or 25.68 million poor people, have been renovated and over 9.6 million people have been relocated to homes with better natural conditions.

The country has met the poverty eradication target set out in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule.

Huang Wenxiu works in a field in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (XINHUA)

Role models

The nation's poverty alleviation accomplishments are inseparable from the leading roles of poverty fighters. Over the past eight years, more than 1,800 people died on the frontlines. Huang Wenxiu was one of them.

Born in 1989, Huang was the former Party chief of Baini Village in Baise, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China.

Since March 2018, she had been leading poverty alleviation efforts in Baini Village, Leye County as the village's Party chief. A total of 418 villagers in 88 households have been lifted out of poverty.

Huang died in a rain-triggered flash flood on June 17, 2019, while traveling from Baise to Leye County. Her father was captured on camera weeping during the award ceremony, which touched a lot of viewers. "We will never forget your daughter and wish your families good health," said Anru, a user on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform.

Wu Yingpu and Fan Zhenzi, who were nominated as role models, were not able to witness the ceremony. The couple, who were village officials involved in the poverty alleviation fight in east China's Jiangxi Province, died in a car accident on their way back from visiting a poor villager in 2018.

Since being stationed in Xiushui County, the couple had visited local villagers and impoverished households frequently. On April 26, 2020, Xiushui County was lifted out of poverty. The impoverished people they once helped are living a better life.

At the commendation conference, Xi acknowledged these heroes, saying that their sacrifice and contributions "will never be forgotten by the Party, the people and the republic."

Contribution to the world

The miracle of poverty reduction created by the Chinese people has made a significant contribution to advancing the cause of global poverty reduction and has given important inspirations and set an example for the majority of developing countries, said Qu Dongyu, Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

In Africa, poverty is a key concern, and China's poverty alleviation work can provide experience to Africa.

Charles Onunaiju, Director of the Center for China Studies in Nigeria, commented in local newspaper The Nation that China's exit from poverty offers lessons for Africa. "The key implications of the end of poverty in China for the rest of the world, especially Africa, is that poverty is not to be accepted as fate but a social scourge that can be eliminated with requisite political will, focused and consistent policy framework," he said.

Cavince Adhere, an international relations expert in Nairobi, said that China's success in rural poverty alleviation through leveraging technology-led farming methods is an inspiration to Kenya and other developing countries.

Actually, poverty reduction has always been one of the key areas of China-Africa cooperation. As one of the major participants in Africa's anti-poverty efforts, China has carried out extensive cooperation such frameworks as the Belt and Road Initiative, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the AU Agenda 2063, thus making significant contributions to poverty reduction and development in Africa.

"China is ready to deepen the exchange of experience on poverty reduction and governance with South Africa and other African countries so as to jointly enhance state governance capacity," said Chen Xiaodong, Ambassador of China to South Africa, adding that China is willing to take more steps to support African countries in tiding over the current difficulties caused by the pandemic, so as to lay a solid foundation for poverty elimination. CA

(Print Edition Title: Inspiring Accomplishment)

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