Beijing, China – Ten years ago, Hai Guo Bao pondered a decision to relocate from his hometown to a new settlement built by the provincial government of Ningxia Hui autonomous region in Northeast China.
As an incentive for relocation, the 60 year-old of the Hui ethnic minority people was promised professional skill training, employment and a 44 square-meter apartment worth 100,000 Yuan (now about US$15,000).
Life in the remote Shang Qing Shi village in the south of the province was pretty challenging for inhabitants - mostly herdsmen and vegetable farmers. Mountains and hills surround most of the land; farming there was a stressful source of livelihood.
When the weather became unfavorable, life was harsh. Children struggled for education, trekking for miles on rocky mountainous paths, leaving their parents on the field worried.
Mr. Hai and his family of seven were the first to relocate in 2007 to the new Yuanlong Village in the north. They were anxious to enjoy basic social amenities for the first time. Electricity and water were available in their new two-room apartment. For them, poverty became a scourge of the past.
So far, the provincial government has relocated more than 350,000 ethnic majority people to the new village giving them sustainable economic livelihood. Relocated families are provided technical skills, jobs, food subsidies, micro-credits and social security benefits.
This is part of a comprehensive poverty eradication strategy by the central government.
The government has an ambitious plan of eradicating poverty by 2020 after setting the poverty line at US$1.92 per day, far above the United Nation’s US$1.25 per day.
Between 1981 and 2015, China has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty, the World Bank says. This number doubles the entire population of the United States.
Last year alone, over 2.72 million people were lifted out of poverty complementing a staggering 55.64 million between 2013 and 2016. By the end of this year, it anticipates lifting about 10 million more.
Poverty alleviation is no easy feat by any measure. It requires robust policies and meticulous implementation. “And China is doing it so well,” a smiling Melinda Gates, wife of Bill Gates, said at an event in Beijing in early August this year. The wife of Microsoft co-founder had immense admiration for the Asian nation’s social development progress in the last couple of decades.
From one province to another, the urge to execute Beijing’s directive on poverty eradication is palpable. China’s ambitious plan of becoming a ‘moderate prosperous’ society by 2020 is based on its robust pragmatic poverty alleviation strategy. And the results so far are resounding.
Rich or more prosperous municipalities or provinces are redirecting some of their resources to empower struggling regions. Modern infrastructures are built and social development plans to empower less develop communities are being executed.
It’s a socialist style of human development working efficiently in a nation of over 1.3 billion people.
Big cities are amassing huge economic potential and small towns also have daring huge ambitions too. In villages, year-on-year economic stability is navigating the political trend of this vast country. For them, this matters most.
In Longjin town, two kilometers off the coastal Hangzhou city in Zhejiang province – east of the country, Qian Wengou, 60, is confident of his village tea farming cooperatives.
Qian was a tea farmer until 17 year-old and left to join the army. He returned home more than 30 years ago and now manages 31 local cooperatives of tea farmers.
The farm spreads across 5.68 square kilometers and generates 1.1 billion Yuan (about US$ 166 billion) from an annual harvest of 35,000 kg. The annual income per cooperative is 150,000 Yuan (over US$22,000).
Qian wants to transform the town into a tourist’s destination by building a five-star hotel out of the returns of produce sales.
It is the booming economy of China fueled by its vibrant infrastructure and policies that are empowering various sectors including local agriculture enterprises like Qian’s. These rural communities are now far ahead of poverty.
And, it is the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the core of the leadership that has led this vastly populous nation for the last seven decades to tremendous economic prowess with significant trigger down effect on its huge population.
China’s remains the second largest economy in the world representing 30% of the entire global economy. It has a rising GDP of 80 trillion Yuan (about US$11.8 trillion).
In Beijing, CPC is holding its 19th Congress from October 18 to 20 to set the stage for the country progress through the next five years. The economy is vital for human development but governance is pivotal; considering the country’s 30 years history of rejuvenating from a planning economy to opening-up and reforms, experts say.
The CPC says the poverty alleviation process has been “further speeding” since its held its 18th Congress in 2012. The numbers speak even loudly.
Chinese researchers say poverty reduction embodies the party’s “people centeredness”.
Meanwhile, in Yuanlong Village, Mr. Hai is still relishing President Xi Jinping’s visit to his home in 2016.
He recalls that Xi’s shared “kind words” with his family and inspired the community to work hard out of poverty. That was a moment of motivation, but it was the political will of leadership that made the difference for a poor community to get a decent life.
Hai now works with a new energy power company earning more US$2,000 per year. More than five times what he earned in 2007 while living in his village. He collects annual share of the community royalty from firms and lives in a decent home with his family.
He says worries about his grand children walking on perilous road to school every day are no more.