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Insights & Inspirations| Tell China’s Stories of Poverty Reduction and Promote International Exchanges by Yu Hui


Yu Hui
International Exchanges Division, International Poverty Reduction Center in China(IPRCC)

Secretary General Liu, Director-General Zheng, Director-General Sun,

Dear guests and journalists,

Good afternoon. It is my great honor to be here today. First of all, on behalf of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the World Tourism Alliance for having me and for its well-planned logistics.

In February 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping solemnly declared that China had secured a complete victory in its fight against poverty, completed the arduous task of eradicating absolute poverty that had plagued the Chinese nation for thousands of years, and built a moderately prosperous society in all respects. China fulfilled the poverty reduction goal put forth in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ten years ahead of schedule, creating a miracle in the world history of poverty reduction. According to a report jointly issued by China’s Ministry of Finance, the Development Research Center of the State Council and the World Bank, in the past four decades, as per the World Bank’s global absolute poverty line of 1.9 US dollars per person per day, China has reduced the impoverished population by nearly 800 million, accounting for more than 75% of global poverty reduction over the same period. China cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world, nor can the world without China. After the victory in the battle against poverty, we should carry forward the spirit of poverty alleviation and promote rural revitalization in all respects. Meanwhile, China’s practices in poverty alleviation offer valuable lessons and inspirations for the global fight against poverty and even the development of mankind. We shall tell the world China’s stories of poverty reduction and promote the implementation of the Global Development Initiative proposed by President Xi.

Next, I would like to brief you on China’s achievements and practices in poverty reduction and our efforts in promoting international exchanges and cooperation in this regard. My speech today will have three parts.

The first part is about China’s great achievements and rich experience in poverty reduction.

The achievements are mainly manifested in four aspects. First, China has completed the historic task of eliminating overall and extreme poverty. China has won a complete victory in the fight against poverty. By the current standard, 98.99 million rural people, 128,000 villages and 832 counties have all been lifted out of poverty, and regional overall poverty is eliminated, honoring our solemn commitment not to leave one behind on the way toward moderate prosperity in all respects. For the first time in the 5,000-year Chinese history, overall absolute poverty is eliminated, a dream of millenniums finally come true. Second, the living standards of the people who have recently emerged from poverty have improved significantly. There has been a substantial improvement in the incomes and welfare of the poor. The Two Assurances and Three Guarantees – referring to assurances of adequate food and clothing, and guarantees of access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing for impoverished rural residents – have been realized; education, healthcare, housing and drinking water supplies are much improved. These provisions have covered all basic needs and laid the foundations for future development. The incomes of the impoverished are increasing. The per capita disposable income of the rural poor increased from RMB 6,079 in 2013 to RMB 12,588 in 2020, up by 11.6% per annum on average. The growth rate was 2.3 percentage points higher than the national rural average. Third, the poverty-stricken areas are rid of backwardness. Poor areas have long suffered from weak infrastructure, inadequate public services, and social and economic underdevelopment. In the final stages of fighting poverty, China succeeded in raising all the rural poor out of extreme poverty and the impoverished areas achieved a big stride in economic and social development, with much improved infrastructure and basic public services, sustained and rapid economic growth, cultural heritage protected, and a more beautiful and better ecological environment. Fourth, people who have shaken off poverty have taken on a fresh outlook. The fight against poverty has yielded abundant results both in the material sense and the psychological sense. Those who have been lifted out of poverty have been invigorated with the drive to pursue a better life, and a higher level of morale for self-improvement, hard work and entrepreneurship.

In my opinion, China’s huge success in poverty reduction over the past eight years is mainly attributed to the leadership of President Xi Jinping who personally commanded, oversaw and deployed the work, and put forward the strategy of targeted poverty alleviation based on the reality of rural China. This strategy has won full recognition from the United Nations, and is proved scientific and effective by our practice. The strategy of targeted poverty alleviation can be summarized by ensuring precision in six areas, namely identifying target groups, carefully planning projects, making good use of funds, following through with measures on a household-by-household basis, assigning first secretaries in consideration of local needs, and setting clear objectives, and five key measures through which people would be lifted out of poverty, namely increased production, relocation, ecological compensation, education, and social assistance for basic needs. To better understand it, we need to first answer five questions. The first question is who exactly needs help. We answered this question by establishing a register of the impoverished households and population and identifying the targeted groups. The second question is who should implement poverty alleviation initiatives. Since 2013, the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee and the former Office of the Leading Group for Poverty Alleviation of the State Council jointly initiated the campaign of dispatching first-secretaries and resident teams to impoverished areas for poverty alleviation. They strengthened primary-level organizations, promoted targeted poverty alleviation, improved governance and delivered real benefits for the people. The third question is how poverty alleviation should be carried out. According to the causes of poverty and the needs of each poor household, the resident teams and first-secretaries formulated targeted policies to help the villagers alleviate poverty. The fourth question is what the standards and procedures are for exiting poverty. The individual exit from poverty is based on the results of democratic evaluation. The exit of impoverished villages and counties shall be reviewed, and the exit results subject to public scrutiny in the form of public announcement. Supervision and inspection are strengthened, and third-party evaluation conducted. These measures help to ensure that the results of poverty eradication are real and credible, and that no one is left out and no mistake is made. The last question is how to consolidate the outcomes of poverty eradication in the following five years. We have established an anti-poverty monitoring mechanism. According to the statistics published by the National Rural Revitalization Administration in June this year, 70% of the people shaken off poverty nationwide had completely eliminated the risk of return to poverty, meaning that the achievements in combating poverty had been effectively consolidated.

The second part is about Chinas active and effective international cooperation in poverty reduction. China actively participates in global poverty reduction, continuously deepens exchanges and cooperation in the field of poverty reduction, promotes the establishment of a new type of international exchange and cooperation relationship for poverty reduction based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and works with other countries to enhance the welfare of all peoples.

First, China supports poverty reduction and development in other developing countries. Shortly after its founding, the People’s Republic, despite national difficulties and financial constraints at that time, lent a helping hand to countries in need, and supported other developing countries in their fight for national independence, liberation and economic and social development. Since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policy, China has diversified its overseas assistance in content and in form, and promoted the common development of the developing world. In this new era, China has assumed the responsibility of a major country and upgraded foreign assistance to international development-oriented cooperation initiatives, made proposals for and contributed wisdom and strength to help solve global development challenges and implement the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The pragmatic measures for international development-oriented cooperation announced by President Xi Jinping on several major international occasions have been delivered on schedule or are being advanced in an orderly manner. The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China has expanded regional cooperation on economic and social development at a higher level, and supported BRI countries’ poverty reduction and development. According to a World Bank research report, the BRI will lift 7.6 million people from extreme poverty and 32 million more from moderate poverty in partner countries. In the past 70-plus years since the founding of the People’s Republic, China has provided assistance in various forms to more than 160 countries and international organizations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Oceania and Europe, debt relief to relevant countries, and assistance to other developing countries in implementing the Millennium Development Goals.

Second, China has implemented international poverty reduction cooperation projects to benefit the people. In Asia, China and ASEAN countries have jointly launched a rural poverty reduction initiative and implemented the East Asia Poverty Reduction Cooperation Pilot Project in rural communities in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. In Africa, China has helped African countries build water conservancy infrastructure, vocational and technical schools, government-subsidized housing projects and other facilities. Efforts are also made to develop agricultural cooperation demonstration zones, promote China-Africa cooperation on Juncao technology, and build friendship hospitals and the headquarters of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the South Pacific region, China has promoted the delivery of free aid and preferential loans to Pacific island countries, and carried out technological cooperation and assistance projects in the sectors of infrastructure construction, agriculture and medical care. In Latin America, China has aided the development of agricultural technology demonstration centers to help local people get rid of poverty. In cooperation with UNESCO, China has set up the International Research and Training Center for Rural Education, to offer such projects as rural education reform and teacher training in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Third, China shares its experience in poverty reduction with the rest of the world. By building platforms, organizing training sessions and conducting think tank exchanges, we share our practices and experience in poverty reduction. On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17), China and the UN agencies in the country jointly held a high-level forum on poverty reduction and development. We also hosted the International Forum on Sharing Poverty Reduction Experience, the International Seminar on Poverty Eradication and Responsibility of Political Parties, and the International Forum on Reform and Opening Up and Poverty Reduction in China, among many other international exchange events, to share our policies and practices on poverty reduction with other developing countries and relevant international organizations.

In the third part of my speech, I would like to give you a brief account of our organization, the International Poverty Reduction Center in China, its history and functions. Founded in 2005, the Center is a public institution directly under the National Rural Revitalization Administration whose predecessor was the Office of the Leading Group for Poverty Alleviation of the State Council. The Center was one of the outcomes of the Shanghai Conference on Poverty Alleviation 2004. It is an international poverty alleviation organization jointly initiated by the Chinese government, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and other international organizations, and an international platform dedicated to poverty reduction research, training, exchange, cooperation and knowledge sharing. It is committed to spreading China’s best practices in poverty reduction and importing and localizing international best practices in China, and building an online research platform for poverty reduction and development. Through hard work over the past 17 years, the Center has become an important window for the Chinese government to exchange and cooperate with other countries in poverty reduction, and one of the most active anti-poverty organizations in the world.

Its functions include the following. First, build an international exchange platform for poverty reduction and tell China’s stories of poverty reduction. Since its establishment, the Center has organized or hosted nearly 100 high-level international poverty reduction exchange events at home, in the rest of Asia, in Africa, Latin America and Europe, and built a number of poverty reduction exchange platforms represented by four forums: The Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum (Global Rural Development Forum), China-ASEAN Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction, FOCAC China-Africa Poverty Reduction and Development Conference, China-CELAC Forum on Poverty Reduction and Development.

Second, develop knowledge products and share them globally, and provide authoritative informative documents and international public knowledge products from all aspects and perspectives. Commissioned by the then Office of the Leading Group for Poverty Alleviation of the State Council, we published 24 issues of Yearbook of Chinas Poverty Alleviation and Development in both Chinese and English. From this year, the yearbook will be renamed the Yearbook on China’s Alignment of Efforts to Consolidate and Expand Achievements in Poverty Alleviation with Efforts to Promote Rural Revitalization, and we will continue to lead the compilation. We have published and co-published many collections of poverty reduction cases, including The Way Forward: Stories of Poverty Reduction in China (2019 and 2020), Global Poverty Reduction Case Series: 2021, Leaving No One Behind: Chinas Stories of Poverty Alleviation, The WTA Best Practice in Poverty Reduction through Tourism, and Best Practices of Rural Revitalization through Tourism. In addition, from the award-winning best practices of poverty reduction solicited worldwide, we selected a few for visual development, and based on them produced 22 episodes of “Path to Prosperity.”

Third, we provide poverty reduction training to other developing countries and help with their capacity building. We earnestly fulfill our function of “presenting China’s achievements and experience in poverty reduction and development to other developing countries, promoting China’s proposals and solutions on poverty alleviation, and helping other developing countries build up their capacity for poverty alleviation and development.” Since its founding, the Center has organized a total of 171 international poverty reduction training projects for 4,754 government officials and anti-poverty workers from 137 countries and regions.

Fourth, we have earnestly implemented the East Asia Poverty Reduction Cooperation Pilot Project. The project was first proposed by Premier Li Keqiang in November 2014, at the 17th ASEAN Plus Three Summit, at which China pledged a foreign aid of 100 million yuan for the project to promote poverty alleviation in rural areas of ASEAN countries. In November 2020, at the 23rd ASEAN Plus Three Summit, Premier Li said China was willing to implement the Phase II project under the Cooperation Initiative on Poverty Reduction in East Asia while fighting domestic poverty to achieve regional coordinated development. The project was launched in 2017, with Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar as pilot countries: two villages were selected in each country, and in the following three years, infrastructure and public service facilities would be built, and livelihood improvement and capacity building activities carried out. By the end of 2021 when all the tasks were completed, the working and living conditions in pilot villages had been significantly improved, producing good demonstration effects. The project has become an overseas model to showcase China’s concept and practice of targeted poverty alleviation, and received much praise from at home and abroad.

Last but not least, I would like to add that a few years ago I had the honor to work in Guizhou as a resident first secretary for poverty alleviation. I have two biggest takeaways from the two-year experience. First, rural areas, especially the poor ones, have received real benefits. Rural infrastructure, public services and other aspects have been greatly improved. All this has laid a solid material foundation for us to promote rural revitalization in the next step. Second, cadres at the primary level, especially those at the village and township levels, have taken up the most arduous tasks which wear their heart and body out, but at the same time have greatly improved their abilities. This has consolidated the talent pool we need for rural revitalization.

Today, the world is undergoing changes unseen in the past century, the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, and there are still factors that threaten to undermine our fruits in poverty reduction and development. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022 issued by the United Nations, the year 2020 alone saw another 93 million people fall into extreme poverty, wiping out the progress we had made in more than four years before that. With all the setbacks, the world has a long way to go to eradicate poverty. But we believe that as long as all countries work together in implementing the Global Development Initiative, adopt targeted and pragmatic approaches, and fully absorb the best practices in poverty governance, we will surely achieve the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals as scheduled, and claim victory against poverty.

This is the end of my speech. Thank you.