Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Chinese government has placed the eradication of absolute poverty in a prominent position in China’s governance and launched an all-out battle against poverty.
Against the backdrop of severe poverty, General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed the concept of “targeted poverty alleviation”, and called on the nation to pull together with greater determination, sharper thinking, more targeted measures and extraordinary efforts, so as to achieve poverty alleviation targets, and ensure that poverty-stricken people lifted out of poverty as scheduled by 2020.
In November 2013, on his inspection tour to Shibadong Village in western Hunan Province, Xi proposed the concept of “giving differentiated guidance for targeted poverty alleviation in line with local conditions by seeking truth from facts”, which contributed an important idea to the strategy of targeted poverty alleviation. “Targeted poverty alleviation” is intended to change the practices of general and extensive poverty alleviation. It is a mode of poverty alleviation which, by targeting at different impoverished areas and different poverty-stricken farmers, adopt scientific and effective procedures for the precise identification, assistance and management of impoverished targets. We will help every impoverished county and every poverty-stricken household out of poverty. We do not spray preferential policies indiscriminately or “kill fleas with a hand-grenade”. Instead, we adopt targeted measures for different villages, households and individuals according to their specific conditions, so that we can address the root causes of poverty.
As the basic requirements for China’s implementation of the strategy of targeted poverty alleviation, the six elements of targeted poverty alleviation are to precise support objects, precise project arrangements, precise use of funds, precise measures to households, precise village-based personnel (the first secretary), and precise poverty alleviation results.
Only with accurate information about the true poor populations can targeted assistance reach the households in need; Only with clear responsibilities defined for governments and officials can priority be given to projects and funds for poverty relief purposes; And only with targeted policies being tailored for poor areas and poor populations can effective poverty alleviation be attained for different local conditions.
“Five Measures for Poverty Alleviation” is the main approach for China to implement the strategy of targeted poverty alleviation. (1) Boosting the economy to create more jobs for the disadvantaged. All those with the ability to work should be guided and encouraged to work for a better future with their own hands and rely on local resources to end poverty. (2) Relocating those living under adverse natural conditions. Those who cannot escape poverty locally can be relocated in a planned and organized way. Efforts are needed to ensure smooth relocation and settlement, and ensure those involved have the means to better themselves. (3) Providing eco-jobs for the poor. China has strengthened eco-environmental restoration and protection in impoverished areas, increased transfer payments in important ecological areas, expanded the scope of those eligible for preferential policies, and granted poor people with the ability to work the opportunity to serve as forest rangers or do other eco-work; (4) Improving education in poor areas. The best way to help the poor is to raise their educational level. National education funds will continue to be weighted toward poverty- stricken areas, for basic education and vocational education. The education services in impoverished areas will be improved, and due attention be given to young children from impoverished rural households, especially “left-behind” children who stay in rural areas while their parents are away working as migrant workers. (5) Improving social security for poverty alleviation. Among the poverty-stricken population, those who have completely or partially lost the ability to work will be guaranteed social security. The standard of rural poverty alleviation allowance and that of rural subsistence allowance will be readjusted, and other forms of social aid be provided. Medical insurance and medical aid will be increased for poverty relief, and the rural poor will be covered by the new rural cooperative medical insurance and the serious illness insurance. More poverty relief efforts will be made to support the old revolutionary base areas.
Guided by a creative philosophy and precise policies, China has made outstanding progress in poverty elimination. This has exerted a positive and far-reaching influence on China’s economic and social development that fully demonstrates the practical value of the strategy.
Targeted poverty alleviation has tackled many tough problems in poverty, and increased the impact of development-oriented poverty alleviation. It inspires local management of rural communities and promotes regional economic and social development as a whole. It also has positive impacts on activating rural social governance at the grassroots level and improving justice in the allocation of poverty-alleviation resources.
The battle against poverty highlights the new development of poverty reduction with Chinese characteristics. The creative philosophy and unique approaches of the strategy are key to China’s battle against poverty and its poverty governance system. As a scientific theoretical innovation, it also offers invaluable experience to international poverty reduction endeavors.