China’s Unique Experience in Poverty Reduction

By staff reporter ZHOU LIN


China’s Poverty Alleviation Operations

Author: Huang Chengwei

Price: RMB 118

Paperback, 240 pages

Published by China Intercontinental Press


It is exceptionally difficult to develop and conduct poverty reduction initiatives in China, a developing country with a population of over 1.3 billion people.


China’s Poverty Alleviation Operations gives an omni-directional and multi-perspective account of China’s poverty alleviation undertakings, launched comprehensively by the government, society, NGOs, and individuals. The book is divided into seven parts, which respectively deal with the macro-history of China’s poverty reduction, the organizational framework and strategic system of poverty reduction, the large variety of poverty reduction subjects, various relief methods covering both rural and urban areas, the special love and care shown for special communities, innovative solutions that lift people out of poverty, as well as the considerable issues of urban poverty. Combining this large amount of data with specific cases and pictures, the book gives a stereoscopic perspective on China’s poverty alleviation operations.


Huang Chengwei, vice director of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC), has a wealth of experience in poverty alleviation. He has been either expert consultant at or member of the World Bank, UNDP, FAO, Asian Development Bank, Australian Agency for International Development, and UK Department for International Development.


The past four decades of China’s reform and opening-up witnessed the rapid growth of its economy. China, one of the world’s poorest countries in the world in 1978, became the second largest economy in 2010, surpassing the developed nation of Japan, which now ranks third. This sustainable and rapid growth has now also become the driving force for poverty alleviation.


From 2000 to 2010, China’s GDP maintained a growth rate of over eight percent, and the revenue of the central government increased more than five-fold, so laying a solid foundation for impoverished people to enjoy these economic achievements and obtain more public services. Meanwhile, China’s social security system covered all rural areas and provided a minimum standard of living for the poorest people, creating a preferential environment for poverty alleviation.


To realize the goal of building a well-off society in an all-round way by 2020, the Chinese government promulgated the new 10-year poverty reduction outline, namely China’s Rural Poverty Alleviation Development Outline (2011-2020). It states that by the year 2020, the government promises that rural residents no longer need worry about food & clothing, and all citizens will enjoy guaranteed compulsory education, basic medical care, and safe housing. The growth rate of the per capita disposable income of farmers in poor areas will thus exceed the national average. Key indexes of basic public services will also be closer to the national average.


For a long time, China’s poverty alleviation efforts have been focused on certain areas, and made infrastructure, public services, and industrial development its main points. However, this previous approach concentrated on channelling a large sum of resources over a short period to effectively improve conditions in poor areas and narrow the gap between impoverished areas and other places. In recent years, with the decreasing number of impoverished people, the challenge is that some of them now live in non-impoverished villages, while villages previously identified as “poor” have transformed and become somewhat wealthy. This mix of social classes and transformation of villages has made it difficult for the government to properly identify and target those in need. Furthermore, the trickle-down effect of the government’s endeavor to encourage rich people to help the poor has achieved little success. Therefore, the government decided to make changes to its poverty alleviation efforts.


Targeted poverty alleviation was thus proposed by the central government, with a series of documents and interpretation papers making a detailed explanation of the new term. The policy emphasizes targeting specific families and populations, and analyzes ways to eradicate poverty at the roots and obstacles to development, so as to achieve the goal of sustainable development. Since the policy of targeted poverty alleviation was put forward in 2013, its meaning has been constantly enriched and deepened.


At the central government’s Conference on Poverty Alleviation and Development at the end of 2015, the questions regarding “who” and “how” to help were clarified. Targeted poverty alleviation strategies thus began to see formal implementation. The targeted poverty alleviation subjects have been classified into different groups, and accordingly different methods have been established: to those with the ability to work – the government will help them to develop distinctive industries and to find work; to those who live in poor areas that have failed to provide local people with necessary conditions to maintain their subsistence – the government will allocate them to new places; to those whose living areas are in fragile ecological areas – the government will provide environmental protection services; to those who are disabled – the government will ensure a minimum standard of living for their daily life; while for those who suffer from diseases – the government will provide medical services.


Helen Clark, administer of the UNDP, once remarked that China gained its unique experience of resolving large-scale poverty in a short period of time; and she thought this experience should be shared with the world. Considering the huge population and large area of China, its achievement in poverty alleviation, to some extent, has promoted the world’s poverty reduction work.