2, China Renews War on Poverty – 2014
Xinhua Insight By Zhang Zhongkai
HAIKOU, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) — For most farmers, Autumn is a happy season where months of hard work toiling the ground finally pay off. But for 43-year-old farmer Fu Xiangli it was a season of remedy. A resident of an impoverished village in Haikou city in south China’s Hainan Province, she’s able breath a sigh of relief after a hastily planted mushroom crop managed to bring in 4,000 yuan (651 U.S dollars).It’s a good haul, but less than half the family’s normal earnings. In July, a record-breaking typhoon destroyed Fu’s fields of rubber trees and rice paddies. With a yearly income of 10,000 yuan split between the family of five, their budget was already shoestring. Incidents like the typhoon often prove financially fatal for those toeing the line of poverty. “It’s surprising that we can still get some money after the disaster,” Fu said, adding the glossy ganoderma mushroom crop was planted under the guidance of the local government. “I see hope of a new life.” Fu is just one of more than 80 million poor Chinese under the country’s poverty line who have become the target of China’s new anti-poverty campaign as the country celebrates its first National Poverty-Relief Day on Friday.
WAR ON POVERTY
Along with the stunning economic growth over the past three decades, China’s poverty relief work has been on the constant move. From 1978 to 2010, China lifted around 660 million people out of poverty, amounting for over 90 percent of the world’s total relieved poverty population, according to the country’s leading group office of poverty alleviation and development.
Along with overall GDP growth targets, the government is focusing on raising the income of the country’s population with a current goal to double per capita income from those recorded in 2010 by 2020.
In an effort to expand the safety net for those in poverty, the national poverty line was increased from 206 yuan in 1986 to 2,300 yuan in 2011,
However, the war on poverty still has a long way to go, with over 80 million people still mired in poverty by the national standard.
Thousands of villages are still without electricity and about 100,000 villages still have no access to modern roads, according to Liu Yongfu, head of the State Council’s leading group office of poverty alleviation and development (CPAD).
The decision to set up a national poverty relief day marks China’s renewed campaign to allocate more manpower and resources to help those in need. This year alone, they aim to lift over 10 million people out of poverty, Liu said.
The office leading the charge called for the whole society to pay more attention and offer more help to the poor. On National poverty relief day this Friday, a range of activities to raise awareness has been initiated, including a mobile app that allows individuals to donate money to the poverty alleviation foundation.
Meanwhile, a nationwide campaign to gather detailed information on the poor has been launched, urging them to register information on causes and level of poverty so the government can offer specific support, Liu said.
A TOUGH BATTLE
Discerning areas in dire need from those who could simply use extra funding has proven a rigorous challenge for poverty alleviation officials.
Currently, a total of 832 Chinese counties are now receiving national poverty relief, with supportive policies and special funds.
The desire for increased funding has lured some counties to rush for the qualification, increasing incidents of inefficient or illegal use of poverty relief funds.
Fake information, embezzlement, misuse of the funds for other purposes such as entertaining officials and investing on image projects were common problems found in 19 counties from 2010 to 2012, according to the country’s top audit agency.
Meanwhile, many counties took a short-sighted approach, using the fund by simply giving money to the poor instead of more diverse and efficient supportive measures, said Liu Zhongcheng, head of the poverty relief office of Inner Mongolia.
Eliminating poverty is not simply about giving money to the poor. The more sustainable approach is to work with them to help lift themselves out of poverty and thrive through technological, policy support and other measures, said Wang Binbin, project manager of the climate change and poverty project with Oxfam, a worldwide development organization focusing on poverty alleviation.
China is now working on improving the evaluation method for impoverished counties, applying more restraints on the use of fund and checking the county’s qualification regularly, said Su Guoxia, head of the policy and regulation department of CPAD.
“We will encourage qualified counties to rid themselves of the label by getting rich through government support and hard work. It’s not shameful to be poor, but indeed creditable to shake off poverty,” Su said.
China’s War on Poverty 2014. Good news.