SCIO briefing on China's poverty reduction progress

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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

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

Oct. 10, 2017


Last year, I visited some impoverished areas in southwest China to produce a special report about their poverty alleviation efforts. I've seen that people in those areas are now enjoying better housing, medical and education services, and have a stronger sense of achievement. However, I wonder how we can establish a long-term mechanism to avoid the people in those areas from sinking back into poverty again. Is there any mechanism in place to help those people become self-dependent and self-sufficient?

Liu Yongfu:

As you have said, remarkable progress has been made in education, medicine, housing, transportation and drinking water thanks to targeted poverty alleviation efforts. While committed to our current work, we should also consider establishing a long-term mechanism to meet any future problems that might occur. First, there should be firm leadership at the grass-roots level to lead poverty reduction and promote prosperity. Second, we need to bring into full play the role of the first Party chief and the task forces assigned to those areas for poverty alleviation, build a group of front-runners and attract local talents back to contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development. Third, we should develop featured industries in accordance with local conditions to ensure sustainable development. Fourth, there has to be a long-term mechanism covering education and public health. For example, those areas should constantly improve medical security, advance pre-school education, compulsory education and higher education to nurture talents and skills. All these measures should be carried out simultaneously. Thank you.

China Daily:

During an interview in Tibet Autonomous Region, I heard that local people who used to live in Nagqu - a high altitude area- had been relocated this July to new houses with a hot spring courtyard. It's a new method of poverty alleviation to relocate people from inhospitable areas. Mr. Liu Yongfu, could you share more about other innovative measures which will be adopted in the future to help people shake off poverty and become prosperous?

Liu Yongfu:

The place you mentioned is Yambajan, which has hot springs. The local government of Tibet has made preparation to move residents living above 4,200 meters in altitude to areas of lower altitude. In the next step we will increase policy support to deeply impoverished areas.

For instance, in Tibet, combined with the development of urbanization and the improvement of the ecosystems and the environment, we can continue to relocate groups of people to low-altitude and river valley areas. While in deeply impoverished villages, where the poverty rate is above 20 percent, we will carry forward specific projects to promote their development, covering infrastructure, industrial development and grass-roots organizational construction. We will also implement new measures to lead local people to change their old ideas and outdated conventions. Thank you.


The poverty relief program seems quite narrowly focused on a certain population of the rural poor. Is there any room or need to expand the definition to maybe urban migrant workers who also struggle a lot with living in the big cities, or people who do not fit into that narrow definition; or maybe people who are slightly above the definition. There may be several hundred million people who are still struggling but not the most extreme poor. I know in Tibet and Sichuan there are some very difficult areas, but even a few hours from Beijing and Hebei, there are people who do not have good access to education and healthcare. Is there any need to expand the focus, maybe after 2020, after the goal is met? Will there be any expansion of the program? Are there any other ways that the government is looking at to help other impoverished people who are also struggling?

Liu Yongfu:

You know well about China. You are right that our poverty relief program does largely target the rural poor. It is true that there are also people living in poverty in urban areas. But as you may also know, we have different policies for urban areas. We rely on subsistence allowances and employment guarantees to relieve poverty in urban areas.

We will see to it that each family has at least one member in stable employment and therefore a stable income. Meanwhile, we will aid those entitled to subsistence allowances in a timely fashion. And the subsistence allowances granted to urban residents are higher than those for rural residents. Regarding migrant workers, this group is covered by the poverty relief program for rural areas.

Right now, we are focusing on wining the poverty reduction war before 2020. How to further address poverty after that? Do we need to come up with a holistic plan that coordinates efforts in urban and rural areas? How to resolve relative poverty after absolute poverty is eliminated? These are all questions we are now studying. You have raised a very good question. Thank you.

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