SCIO briefing on China's poverty reduction progress

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Speakers:
Mr. Liu Yongfu, director of State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development
Ms. Su Guoxia, head of the Comprehensive Department of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, as well as the office’s spokesperson

Chairperson:
Xi Yanchun, vice director-general of the Press Bureau, State Council Information Office

Date:
Oct. 10, 2017

Xi Yanchun:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to this press conference. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has always attached great importance to poverty reduction. To help you better understand China's progress in this regard, we have invited Mr. Liu Yongfu, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, to introduce developments since the 18th CPC National Congress was held. He will also answer some of your questions. We have also invited Ms. Su Guoxia, head of the Comprehensive Department of the office, as well as its spokesperson, to attend this press conference.

Now, let's welcome Mr. Liu Yongfu to give his briefing.

Liu Yongfu:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to this press conference. Thank you for your long-term support and close attention to our work of poverty reduction.

Oct. 17 will mark the fourth National Poverty Relief Day of China, as well as the 25th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Two days ago, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, issued important instructions related to the poverty reduction work. While recognizing the achievements and efforts made in this field so far, he urged all Party members, and indeed the whole society, to keep moving forward and win the battle against poverty. Premier Li Keqiang has also urged all-out efforts to be undertaken in this regard, so as to ensure the overall poverty reduction goals can be fulfilled according to plan.

Liu Yongfu:

On Oct. 9, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development held a seminar in Beijing to share some outstanding examples and experiences of poverty alleviation. The seminar conveyed and learned the significant instructions from the Party General Secretary and the premier, and presented awards to some excellent individuals for their efforts in poverty alleviation. Also yesterday, the Poverty Relief Office of the State Council and the United Nations' China branches co-organized the 2017 Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum, which was attended by delegations from 15 countries, envoys to China from 20 countries and representatives from 16 international organizations. Chinese and foreign representatives praised China's poverty alleviation achievements and targeted poverty alleviation plans. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asserted his belief that targeted poverty alleviation is the only way to help the poorest people and achieve the major goals set for the U.N.'s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In a few days, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will be held in Beijing. China will begin a historic new chapter in its journey to carry out the great struggle, pursue the great undertaking, push forward the great cause and realize the great dream. We will work in full force to push forward poverty alleviation with the guidance of the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress.

Liu Yongfu:

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has taken poverty elimination as the bottom-line, goal and landmark indicator for building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. Poverty elimination forms part of the country's "five-in-one overall strategy" of promoting balanced economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress, and the country's "four-pronged comprehensive strategy" of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, deepening reform, exercising law-based governance, and practicing strict Party self-governance. The central government has established the goal of nationwide poverty elimination by 2020, when the entire impoverished rural population living below current poverty standards will be lifted out of poverty and there will not be a single "poverty county."

The Chinese government is pushing ahead with the work of poverty elimination with unprecedented vigor. President Xi Jinping has assumed personal command of the work, and has inspected all the contiguous areas of extreme poverty in the country. Among his more than 50 domestic inspection tours, more than 30 have been related to poverty alleviation. During the five inter-provincial poverty elimination meetings in Fuping of Hebei Province, Yan'an of Shaanxi Province, Guiyang of Guizhou Province, Yinchuan of Ningxia Autonomous Region, and Taiyuan of Shanxi Province, President Xi repeatedly stressed poverty elimination and issued a series of important instructions.

All the members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee as well as comrades of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee attach great importance to the work of tackling poverty and continually give strong guidance on the issue. Governments at all levels have conscientiously implemented the central government's decisions and arrangements. People from all walks of life have actively participated in and made joint efforts in tackling poverty. Thus, it can be said that the work of poverty elimination has made some remarkable achievements.

Liu Yongfu:

First, we have established a series of systems of poverty elimination. The systems involve responsibilities, policies, funding, mobilization, supervision and assessment, providing a solid institutional guarantee for the work of poverty elimination.

Second, we have promoted the key work in tackling poverty. The work includes targeted poverty reduction, funds management and targeted policies tailored to local conditions.

Through joint efforts of governments at all levels and people from all walks of life, the number of people living in poverty has dropped by a great margin and the living conditions in the poverty-stricken areas has obviously improved.

During the last four years, the number of people living in poverty was accumulatively reduced by 55.64 million, an average of 13.91 million a year; this year the number is expected to stand at least 10 million. Therefore, during the past five years, a yearly average of more than 13 million people have escaped from poverty.

An immense poverty reduction program running from 1986 to 2000 lifted 6.39 million people out of poverty on average each year. And during the ensuing decade, the figure rose to 6.73 million. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the government has reduced the number of people living in poverty by more than 13 million each year, signaling an unprecedented achievement in our history.

Liu Yongfu:

Second, poor counties were defined throughout the country from 1986. This year, Jinggangshan in Jiangxi Province and Lankao in Henan Province took the lead in poverty alleviation. Another group of poverty-stricken counties will also announce their poverty elimination by the end of this year, signifying that the number of poor counties has been reduced for the first time in history. This is a remarkable achievement.

The poverty reduction drive has not only lifted people out of poverty, but also improved governance and management competency of rural grass-roots units, inspiring community-level officials to change their way of administration. A great number of young grass-roots workers and Party officials came to the fore in the drive. With the change in their work style, and the experiences gained from dealing with actual situations, they will become a treasure trove for the new great causes that will follow in due course.

Despite the remarkable achievements in the poverty reduction drive, there are still difficulties and problems that we cannot afford to underestimate or ignore.

The major difficulties at present are: the task of poverty elimination in the deeply impoverished areas is arduous and the problem of the people who become poor or sink back into poverty due to illness is very striking. The problems related to these areas and these people can only be solved at higher expense and with greater efforts.

At the same time, we also have some problems in our work, such as impractical approaches, superficial work style, inaccurate assistance, formalism and bureaucracy. Besides, the lack of motivation of the affected people is also a hindrance.

Liu Yongfu:

Guided by General Secretary Xi Jinping's strategic thinking on poverty relief and development, we should be fully aware of our problems, and keep to a problem-oriented approach to continue to implement the policies and instructions of the central government, making an all-out effort to win the battle against poverty. That's all I want to share with you. Ms. Su Guoxia and I are ready to take your questions. Thank you.

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