|Children of Se ethnic group sit in front of a monument that reads "China's No. 1 Poverty Relief Village" at Chixi Village, Panxi town, Fuding city in East China's Fujian province on Feb 14, 2016. The village has shaken off poverty thanks to assistance from Party and government officials at all levels over the past 30 years. [Xinhua]|
On Wednesday, as we celebrate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which is also the fifth Chinese Poverty Relief Day, an intensive campaign is under way throughout China to meet the official deadline for lifting all its impoverished people and regions out of poverty by 2020.
Millions of Party and government officials have been dispatched to the grassroots, in both urban and rural areas, to help win the "decisive battle against poverty". With compulsory quotas and criteria, they are racing against time so the country can bid a proud farewell to poverty on schedule.
China has an impressive record in the global fight against poverty, having lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty over the past four decades. In a sense, reform and opening-up itself have been the most inclusive and most successful poverty relief program humanity has ever seen. Yet given the country's population base, the scale of abject poverty remains stunning even after consecutive, dramatic reductions in recent years.
According to the country's 2016 statistical report, based on the 2010 poverty line of 2,300 yuan ($332) per person a year for rural residents, 43.35 million people were still living in poverty. It certainly will be a great feat, and tremendous contribution to global poverty eradication, if the country can truly fulfill the ambitious goal as planned.
However, it would be questionable to take the current campaign as a "last", "ultimate" battle that can eliminate poverty in the country once and for all.
For one thing, China's poverty line is lower than that of the United Nations. More important, as numerous past cases have demonstrated, economic conditions of specific people and households can vary greatly over time. There is no lack of reports of people once "lifted above poverty line" falling back because of medical or other expenses. They are valuable reminders that, for the achievements of poverty alleviation to last, there has to be a reliable network of social security guarantees.
Despite the constant headway made over the past few years in improving that network, the guarantees available to those who need them the most remain meager and insufficient. While the last-minute efforts being made can be essential for a scheduled success, they do little in resolving that problem. Which is why relief endeavors should persist as long as poverty does.
(Source: China Daily)