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Speech at a Symposium on Resolving Prominent Problems in Poverty Alleviation

Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2020-01-13

II. We must focus on resolving outstanding problems concerning the "two assurances and three guarantees."

The basic requirements and core criteria for poverty alleviation are assuring the rural poor population that they have enough to eat and to wear and guaranteeing them access to compulsory education, basic medical services, and safe housing by 2020. These goals have a direct bearing on the quality of our fight against poverty. On the whole, the "two assurances" have essentially been settled, but there are still many areas of weakness in the "three guarantees."

With regard to guaranteeing access to compulsory education, there are more than 600,000 children that have discontinued their studies in the compulsory stage. Boarding schools in towns and townships are insufficiently developed, and it is difficult for some children left behind in rural areas to receive education. With regard to guaranteeing access to basic medical services, some poor people are not covered by basic medical insurance, and some do not receive prompt treatment for common illnesses and chronic conditions. Medical facilities in poor counties, townships, and villages are insufficient, and some poor villages have no clinics or qualified doctors. With regard to guaranteeing access to safe housing, throughout the country there are about 1.6 million households in four key groups (namely households eligible for subsistence allowances, individuals living in extreme poverty on basic assistance in rural areas, families of people with disabilities affected by poverty, and households registered as living in poverty) that require renovation of their dilapidated housing, of which 800,000 households are registered as living in poverty. Some rural areas have not carried out assessments of such housing or have failed to ensure the accuracy of these assessments. With regard to guaranteeing access to safe drinking water, the problem has yet to be resolved for about 1.04 million poor people, while water safety needs to be further consolidated and enhanced for 60 million rural residents. If not effectively resolved by 2020, these problems will greatly detract from our success in fighting against poverty.

Authorities and departments at all levels must take the above problems seriously, get on the same page, and carry out relevant initiatives effectively. To resolve outstanding problems concerning the "three guarantees," we must adhere to systems and mechanisms under which the central government formulates overarching plans, provincial governments assume overall responsibility, and city and county governments take charge of implementation. The central leading group on poverty alleviation should enhance overall coordination, oversight, and guidance, and make relevant arrangements in a timely manner. The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the Ministry of Water Resources, the National Health Commission, and the National Healthcare Security Administration are not only part of the leading group on poverty alleviation, but also responsible for managing work related to the "three guarantees." Principal leaders of these departments must personally take the initiative, while officials in charge of specific tasks must make concrete efforts. These departments must define clear standards for their work and establish supporting policies in line with their respective functions, and guide local authorities in analyzing and resolving problems. Relevant provincial-level governments should organize local units to conduct checks, feel out the situation on the ground, organize resources in a coordinated manner, formulate and implement plans, and work out targeted measures. City and county governments should take responsibility for the implementation of specific initiatives and verify exits from poverty on a case-by-case and household-by-household basis to ensure that no blind spots exist.


Xi Jinping talks with teachers and students of Zhongyi Township Primary School in Shizhu Tujia Autonomous County on April 15, 2019 to learn about the situation with regard to guaranteeing access to compulsory education during his visit to Chongqing from April 15 to 17.


I have emphasized on many occasions that we must adhere to current poverty alleviation standards and refrain from raising or lowering them. Guaranteeing access to compulsory education mainly entails ensuring that the school-age children of poor families complete their education. Guaranteeing access to basic medical services mainly entails ensuring that all poor people are covered by the medical insurance system, that there are facilities where they can access affordable treatment for common illnesses and chronic conditions, and that they can maintain a basic standard of living in the event that they become seriously ill. Guaranteeing access to safe housing mainly entails ensuring that poor people do not live in dilapidated housing. Guaranteeing access to safe drinking water mainly entails ensuring that rural citizens feel at ease about the water they drink and that we make coordinated efforts to analyze and resolve safety issues in this regard. These are the country's unified, basic standards, but conditions vary from region to region. For example, with regard to ensuring housing safety, the southern region should focus on ventilation, while the northern region should focus on heating and insulation. With regard to ensuring the safety of drinking water, the northwestern region should focus on finding adequate sources of water, while the southwestern region should focus on the storage and delivery of water as well as on bringing water quality up to required standards. Therefore, different localities should act in line with actual conditions rather than trying to use "one-size-fits-all" solutions. Extensive inquiries have been made by various localities into how to resolve outstanding problems concerning the "three guarantees," with some either wittingly or unwittingly raising standards. Such practices should be rectified if they markedly exceed standards. If standards are only exceeded by a small margin, however, then the stability and continuity of policies should be maintained in order to prevent too much chopping and changing.

To resolve outstanding problems concerning the "two assurances and three guarantees," it is essential to acquire a clear sense of basic conditions. Some localities have still failed to do so, and this is unacceptable. Relevant departments must guide all localities in getting a clear sense of basic conditions to ensure that they are working toward definite goals. Relevant departments should also enhance verification and connection of data in order to avoid inconsistencies between different departments. Supervisory departments for relevant industries should take the lead in formulating work plans, while provincial-level governments should formulate implementation plans, set timetables and roadmaps, and come up with effective measures and methods to ensure that tasks are completed on schedule. Our policies and funds for resolving outstanding problems concerning the "three guarantees" are sufficient; the key is ensuring that they are applied effectively. We need to intensify our efforts, focus on outstanding problems, and rectify deficiencies on a per-village, per-household, and per-case basis. We also need to publicize our policies and standards to ensure that we are all on the same page, and guide all sectors of society in accurately understanding these policies so as to prevent the emergence of varying interpretations.

III. We must make solid efforts this year and next in the fight against poverty.

Taking everything into account, China has already essentially achieved the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. However, there remain some shortcomings, the greatest of which is in our fight against poverty. The fight against poverty has now entered a crucial stage for us to secure a decisive victory. Our approach in this stage should differ from the overall planning of the initial stage and the overall advancement of the intermediate stage since now the most urgent task is to prevent our efforts from slackening or slipping. All localities and departments must press on without respite, not letting up until a complete victory has been secured.

First, we must strengthen accountability. As a Chinese saying goes, "Capable people attach greater importance to conscientiousness than to resourcefulness." Winning the fight against poverty is a task that must be fulfilled if we are to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Principal leaders of provincial-level Party committees and governments must boost awareness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the CPC central leadership core, and keep in alignment; strengthen their confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; resolutely uphold the General Secretary's core position on the CPC Central Committee and in the Party as a whole, and resolutely uphold the CPC Central Committee's authority and its centralized, unified leadership; and heighten their political responsibility as they take action in the fight against poverty. Provincial-level officials in charge of poverty alleviation must, on account of their special position, ensure that they are well acquainted with relevant circumstances and build expertise so that they can effectively advise and assist in the implementation of initiatives. Each province should select and appoint capable officials to take charge of poverty alleviation efforts. Leadership should remain stable in principle, but adjustments should be made where officials are found to be unsuited to their post or incapable of performing their duties. All industries and government departments must put their utmost effort toward our poverty alleviation objectives, working together and ensuring that they perform their duties. Those who hinder the fulfillment of our goals due to their failure to assume responsibilities, implement policies, and carry out initiatives must be held to account.


Xi Jinping converses with local officials and representatives of the public at the home of Zhang Guoli, a resident of Maanshan Village in Chifeng, on July 15, 2019, during a visit he made to Inner Mongolia from July 15 to 16, where he provided guidance for the "staying true to our original aspirations and founding mission" education campaign.


Second, we must overcome the most difficult challenges in poverty alleviation. Our efforts to address problems in areas with extreme poverty, poor basic conditions, complex causes of poverty, and overlapping ethnic, religious, and stability issues are the key in determining whether we can win the battle against poverty. In June 2017 in Shanxi, I presided over a symposium on poverty alleviation in deeply impoverished areas, calling for concentrated efforts to lift deeply impoverished areas such as the "three regions and three prefectures" out of poverty. After the meeting, the CPC Central Committee formulated guidelines for supporting poverty alleviation in these areas. Though various sectors have intensified their efforts in this regard, we must make sure that efforts do not slacken. There are certain deeply impoverished counties aside from the "three regions and three prefectures" where we need to redouble our efforts and work out specific and pragmatic measures through a step-by-step approach so that we may overcome difficult obstacles and ensure that poverty alleviation tasks are completed.

Third, we must work earnestly to rectify problems. The most recent round of special inspections and impact assessments of poverty alleviation has discovered numerous outstanding and endemic problems, which mainly exist in the following areas. The first is failure to regard poverty alleviation as a major political task. This results in inadequate assumption of responsibility, discordant thinking, and lackluster implementation. The second is deviation from the principle of targeted poverty alleviation. Some have reduced poverty alleviation to mere distribution of money and supplies, dividends from community businesses, or subsistence allowances instead of focusing their energy on doing precise work. The third is excessive formalism and bureaucratic practices. For instance, some have spent money on whitewashing walls, which brings no benefit at all to the public and only constitutes a pointless waste of the country's money. In addition, local officials have been brought to the point of exhaustion by the large numbers of meetings to attend, inspections to conduct, and forms to fill out. Authorities of all regions and departments should take a full inventory of problems and ensure that problems in every category are properly rectified, so that we may lay sound foundations for next year's work.

Fourth, we must raise the quality of poverty alleviation. Poverty alleviation must give consideration to both quantity and quality, but put greater focus on the latter. We cannot allow a scenario in which all localities claim that they have completed their poverty alleviation tasks on schedule but then slip back into poverty en masse a year or two down the line. Adopting a multi-layered approach, we must raise the quality of poverty alleviation and consolidate the results of our efforts in this regard. We must strictly control exits from poverty by rigorously enforcing relevant standards and procedures to ensure that poverty alleviation initiatives are genuinely effective and reach those who truly need help. We should prioritize the prevention of relapse into poverty, conduct timely follow-up checks on people lifted out of poverty, and offer prompt assistance to those relapsing into poverty as well as new cases of poverty. We should look into forming long-term mechanisms for people to steadily make their way out of poverty, including strengthening poverty alleviation by developing industries in poor areas and channeling consumer spending to these areas, enhancing relevant training, and promoting nonagricultural employment opportunities for the surplus rural workforce so that poor people can find stable jobs. We need to provide adequate follow-up support to people that have been relocated, and ensure that our poverty alleviation efforts help people build the confidence and capacity to pull themselves out of poverty so that the campaign is equipped with sustainable internal drive.

Fifth, we must keep our poverty alleviation policies stable. As an old Chinese saying goes, "The most difficult part of a victory is not winning it, but rather sustaining it." In the first half of this year, more than 430 poor counties will bid farewell to poverty. During the assessment process, it was found that some counties that had shaken off the designation of being poor have grown sluggish in their efforts since last year. Some have put their feet up and abandoned poverty alleviation projects, and some have shifted their focus elsewhere. Party committee secretaries and administrators in some counties have shown eagerness to be transferred to other posts, and some people that have been lifted out of poverty have seen their incomes stagnate or even decrease. After shaking off the designation of being poor, counties must continue to complete the task of lifting their remaining poor out of poverty, and keep those who have already been lifted out of poverty from falling back in. In these counties, Party and government leadership should remain stable with officials aware that they still bear responsibility, major poverty alleviation policies should remain in force so that they are followed through with, poverty alleviation teams should remain in place so that they continue to provide assistance, and oversight should be prioritized to prevent people from slipping back into poverty. Relevant departments must work quickly to propose specific ways of satisfying these requirements.

Sixth, we must improve our conduct. We need to incorporate the requirement of comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline throughout the entire process of our fight to eradicate poverty, and improve our conduct in order to ensure that concrete efforts are made to alleviate poverty, that channels to exit from poverty are sound, and that poverty alleviation leads to genuine results. We need to implement and improve systems and mechanisms for promoting poverty alleviation through Party building, effectively train poverty alleviation officials, and enhance the abilities of officials at all levels while instilling within them a stronger sense of mission and responsibility. We need to exert the crucial role of local Party organizations in leading the general public out of poverty and toward prosperity, push deeper with efforts to combat corruption and misconduct in poverty alleviation, and implement policy decisions designed to ease the burdens on localities.

The vast majority of officials working on the front lines of poverty alleviation have kept their mission firmly in mind, and worked hard for the wellbeing of the poor. Some have long been overloaded in their work, some have had no time to take care of their families and children, some have exhausted themselves to the point that they are unable to go on for health reasons, and some have even sacrificed their lives. We must show great care for the lives, health, and safety of those serving on the front lines of the fight against poverty, and immediately provide subsidies and long-term support for the families of deceased officials. We must see that officials who have performed well and won public approval at the local level are effectively trained and put to good use. We must also enhance publicity and commend outstanding officials so that the public is aware of stories of heroism from the fight against poverty. Finally, with regard to poverty alleviation officials who flinch in the face of difficulty, muddle through their work, or stoop to deception, we must enhance education and supervision, replacing those who should be replaced and holding to account those who should be held accountable.

Winning the fight against poverty is a historic mission that is both glorious and immensely challenging. If we are to attain complete success in this mission, we must continue putting in arduous efforts. We must press on with courage and resolve, making new and greater contributions so that we may realize our goals of winning the fight against poverty and building a moderately prosperous society on schedule.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 16, 2019)

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