Speech at a Symposium on the Targeted Poverty Alleviation Campaign
Speech at a Symposium on the Targeted Poverty Alleviation Campaign
(February 12, 2018)
After the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, I held symposiums in Yan'an, Guiyang, Yinchuan, and Taiyuan with a number of provincial-level Party committee secretaries in which we planned poverty alleviation according to specific topics and stages and reviewed the progress that has been made in this regard. Today's meeting on poverty alleviation is the first that I have presided over since the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017.
The battle against poverty represents one of the three critical battles that I listed in the report to the 19th National Congress. For us to reach our objective of building a moderately prosperous society on schedule and complete the first centenary goal, it is extremely important that we win this battle. My main reasons for inviting you here today are to hear your opinions and suggestions, exchange information on poverty alleviation, learn about the progress that has been made in this endeavor, analyze existing problems, and make plans for the next stage so that we can make solid advances in the fight against poverty.
I would now like to add a few suggestions of my own. There are three issues I want to talk about in particular.
The first issue is having thorough recognition of the decisive progress that China has made in the fight against poverty.
Focusing on the objective of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, the CPC Central Committee has included development-driven poverty alleviation in the Five-Sphere Integrated Plan and the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy since the 18th National Congress as a key task for achieving the First Centenary Goal. Over this period, a series of major plans have been made for the fight against poverty on all fronts. Our poverty alleviation efforts have reached unprecedented levels in terms of their scale, intensity, and impact. We have thus achieved decisive progress, significantly improving the working and living conditions of poor people and impoverished areas, and in so doing we have written a new chapter in the history of humanity's struggle with poverty.
President Xi Jinping delivers a key address at a symposium on winning a decisive victory against poverty in Beijing, March 6, 2020. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER JU PENG
First, we have achieved record-breaking results in our poverty reduction efforts. The rural poor population living under the current poverty line fell from 98.99 million at the end of 2012 to 30.46 million at the end of 2017, a decrease of 68.53 million and about 70 percent over the past five years. The poverty rate dropped from 10.2% at the end of 2012 to 3.1% at the end of 2017, a decrease of 7.1 percentage points. During this period,an average of 13.7 million people were lifted out of poverty per year, which was 2.14 times higher than the annual average of 6.39 million while the Seven-Year National Action Plan to Lift 80 Million People out of Poverty (1994-2000) was in effect, and 2.04 times higher than the annual average of 6.73 million while the Ten-Year Poverty Alleviation Program (2001-2010) was being implemented. This is a departure from the old pattern that the population escaping poverty would decrease after new standards were adopted. The number of poor counties decreased for the first time, with 28 poor counties exiting poverty in 2016. According to preliminary evaluations, an additional 100 will exit poverty after 2017 assessments are completed. This shows that solid progress has been made in addressing the problem of regional poverty on the whole.
Second, we have facilitated faster development of impoverished areas. In these areas, we have bolstered poverty alleviation through industrial development, with rapid growth of industries that leverage local strengths and of new forms of business geared toward poverty alleviation including tourism, solar energy, and e-commerce. This has generated stronger internal momentum for driving development in impoverished areas. Through poverty alleviation efforts based on ecological conservation, relocation of residents, and conversion of farmland to forests, we have made significant environmental improvements in impoverished areas and brought about a win-win situation in which our efforts to protect the environment and eliminate poverty have been merged into a combined front. The development of infrastructure and public services has greatly improved basic conditions in impoverished areas, particularly those in the countryside, allowing them to take on a brand new look. We have improved local governance and management capacity in impoverished areas significantly, and raised the cohesiveness and effectiveness of local CPC organizations in rural areas, by carrying out poverty screening, facilitating exit from poverty, and implementing projects for alleviating poverty. Through dispatching first secretaries of CPC branches and resident work teams in villages, we have given officials the opportunity to enhance their skills, and also fostered competent people in the countryside. We have assigned a total of 435,000 officials to serve as first secretaries and 2,778,000 officials as village-stationed providers of support. Currently, there are 195,000 first secretaries and 775,000 village-stationed officials. Shouldering heavy responsibilities, they have fought side by side with local officials to lead poor people out of poverty and toward prosperity. They have worked extremely hard for the wellbeing of the poor, with some even sacrificing their lives for this cause, demonstrating their care for the people and sense of mission as poverty alleviation officials.
Third, we have built powerful synergy through all of society for poverty alleviation. Upholding the dominant and leading role of government investment, we have advanced poverty alleviation based on cooperation between China's eastern and western regions, dedicated assistance from Party and government organizations, support from the People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police Force, and the participation of social forces. Central government funding for poverty alleviation has grown at an annual average of 22.7%, while provincial funding has grown at an average of 26.9%. Poor counties have integrated 529.6 billion yuan in rural development funds for poverty alleviation. The financial sector has allocated 350 billion yuan in special loans for alleviating poverty through relocation, as well as more than 430 billion yuan in microloans and more than 160 billion yuan in relending for poverty alleviation. Impoverished areas have gained proceeds of more than 46 billion yuan by transferring surplus land quotas for urban construction. In cooperation between the eastern and western regions, 342 more-developed counties in the east paired up with 570 impoverished counties in the west, contributing to poverty alleviation in western China and promoting coordinated regional development. By providing poverty alleviation assistance to designated targets, Party and government institutions, particularly central Party and government departments, are able to gain a better understanding of rural and impoverished areas, and improve their working practices and train their officials in the process. Various sectors of society have participated extensively in poverty alleviation initiatives. Central government-owned enterprises launched a campaign to support 10,000 villages in 100 counties in old revolutionary base areas, while private enterprises have engaged in a broad campaign to provide targeted support for thousands of villages. By the end of 2017, 46,200 private enterprises had provided assistance to 51,200 villages nationwide. In total, 52.7 billion yuan was invested in projects aimed at alleviating poverty through industrial development, and 10.9 billion yuan was donated for public welfare assistance, with more than 6.2 million registered poor people benefitting as a result. In Liangshan, Sichuan Province, the China Society for Promotion of the Guangcai Program made arrangements for more than 500 well-known private entrepreneurs to take part in targeted poverty alleviation initiatives, which resulted in the establishment of 149 collaborative projects, the signing of contracts worth 203.7 billion yuan, and the donation of more than 40 million yuan in public welfare funds to Liangshan Prefecture. These activities have provided a strong boost to impoverished villages and people for moving out of poverty and toward prosperity, and carried on the great Chinese tradition of helping the poor and assisting those in difficulty.
Not long ago, I received a letter from 20 young Party members of the China Railway Tunnel Group who have worked on the Chengdu-Kunming Railway expansion project. They said that more than 50 years ago, many of their fathers or grandfathers helped build Shamulada Tunnel, the most difficult section of the Chengdu-Kunming Railway. The old generation of railroad builders, with their heroic spirit of fearing neither danger nor death, conquered rivers and mountains and turned natural barriers into thoroughfares, bringing about a miraculous achievement in the world's history of railroad construction. Today, these young Party members are carrying on the torch of their forebears as they take on the task of building Xiaoxiangling Tunnel, the longest and most difficult section of the new Chengdu-Kunming Railway. They are determined to carry on the spirit of the older generation, remain true to our Party's original aspirations, and courageously forge ahead as they work to complete the construction of the railway as soon as possible so that it can serve as an "accelerator" to help people along its route move out of poverty and toward prosperity. Reading the letter, I am very pleased that the younger generation of builders take responsibility for and are loyal to our country and our people.
President Xi Jinping visits the deeply impoverished family of Wang Sannu in Zhaojiawa Village, Kelan County, Xinzhou City, Shanxi Province, afternoon of June 21, 2017 during a tour of the province from June 21 to 23. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER PANG XINGLEI
Fourth, we have established an institutional framework for poverty alleviation with Chinese characteristics. While strengthening the Party's overall leadership over poverty alleviation, we have established an accountability system in which all sectors carry out their respective responsibilities and perform their respective functions, a working system for accurate screening and targeted poverty alleviation, a unified and coordinated policy system featuring integration between different levels, a system for guaranteeing the input of money and manpower, an assistance system tailored to the specific circumstances of individual villages, households, and people, a social mobilization system featuring broad participation and joint efforts, a comprehensive, multi-channel supervision system, and a rigorous assessment system, thus providing strong institutional guarantees for the battle against poverty. The fundamental component of this institutional framework is the management system under which the central government formulates overarching plans, provincial governments assume overall responsibility, and city and county governments take charge of implementation. Officials from the center and down to every local level have pledged to complete their objectives in the fight against poverty while setting clear goals, improving accountability, and strengthening implementation. These institutional achievements have contributed Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to the cause of global poverty reduction.
In this great campaign against poverty, we have gained valuable experience, which mainly include the following:
President Xi Jinping visits the home of a poor family in Sanhe Village, Zhaojue County, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, morning of February 11, 2018. Shortly before the Spring Festival, the traditional Chinese new year, Xi toured Sichuan Province where he met officials and members of the public and expressed his best wishes for the new year to people of all ethnic groups across the country. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER JU PENG
First, we uphold the leadership of the Party and strengthen organizational guarantees. Strong leadership is vital to the fight against poverty. We have given play to the role of Party committees at all levels in exercising overall leadership and coordinating overall initiatives. We have put in place a system whereby Party committee secretaries assume full responsibility and Party committee secretaries at the provincial, municipal, county, township, and village levels work in coordination with each other, thus providing solid political guarantees for the fight against poverty.
Second, we uphold the strategy of targeted poverty alleviation to improve effectiveness. Targeted approaches are essential to our fight against poverty. We must remain committed to alleviating and eradicating poverty in a targeted manner, and ensure precision in the following six areas: the identification of people who need help, the organization of projects, the use of funds, the execution of measures, the assignment of the right people (first secretaries) to each village, and the effects of poverty eradication efforts. We must properly address the questions of who exactly needs help, who should provide help, how help should be offered, and what standards and procedures should be adopted for exiting poverty, and refrain from engaging in broad and unrestrained campaigns or resorting to boisterous methods that do not actually solve the problem. We need to implement policies tailored to individual villages, households, and people, address their specific problems in a precise and targeted manner, and alleviate poverty by getting to the root of the problem.
Third, we increase investment and strengthen financial support. Funding is a key guarantee for our fight against poverty. We have ensured multi-channel funding and diversified investment: government funding is the main source and plays a guiding role; input from financial institutions is increasing; the capital market's role in supporting poverty alleviation is tapped; and private funds are going into poverty alleviation on an extensive basis.
Fourth, we mobilize and bring together the support of various sectors of society. The participation of various parties generates synergy in our fight against poverty. Both the government and society play their roles to the full with government-sponsored projects, sector-specific programs, and corporate and societal assistance supplementing each other. We have mobilized all sectors and coordinated the market and society, so a poverty alleviation framework with extensive social participation is now in place.
Fifth, we have strict requirements to encourage hard work and concrete results. This is essential to our fight against poverty. We must see that the requirement to comprehensively govern the Party with strict discipline is implemented in every segment throughout the whole process of the fight against poverty. We must conduct regular oversight and inspections and the most rigorous assessment while making sure that channels to exit from poverty are solid and that poverty alleviation produces genuine results so that the effects of this campaign stand up in practice.
Sixth, we ensure the principal role of the people and stimulate internal momentum. Impoverished people's self-motivation is the foundation in our fight against poverty. We must continue to rely on the people, fully mobilize the enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity of the poor, and ensure that our poverty alleviation efforts help people build the confidence and capacity to pull themselves out of poverty. We need to properly balance the relationship between external assistance and the efforts of the poor, foster the mentality of relying on one's own efforts to move out of poverty and toward prosperity, train impoverished people to develop skills so that they can find jobs or go into business, and organize, guide, and support them in shaking off poverty through hard work, thus using the people's own internal momentum to drive the fight against poverty.
The above valuable experience should be carried forward and developed further.
The experience and achievements that we have captured in poverty alleviation have received high praise from the international community. On February 1, The People's Daily reported on some of these comments in an article entitled "China's High-Quality and High-Efficiency Path to Poverty Reduction—Positive Responses from the International Community on China's Achievements in Poverty Alleviation." I suggest that all of you read this report. It mentions the following comments: Ana Campos, an official of a poverty reduction program at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said that China has achieved tremendous results in poverty reduction because it has always placed poverty alleviation in a position of importance and has done so with very clear vision in mind, setting an example for other countries in poverty reduction. John Naisbitt, a well-known American futurist, said that from a global perspective, China's poverty reduction efforts are of great value to emerging economies seeking to shake off poverty. Michel Aglietta, a famous French economist, suggested that China's successful experience in poverty alleviation should be studied and extended to other parts of the world. Wolfram Adolphi, a German political scientist, said that the Chinese government has treated and addressed poverty reduction as its mission and responsibility, and that China's experience in poverty reduction serves as reference for the world. Kamakhya, a professor at Sharma University in India, said in its fight against poverty, China is not only eliminating the problem of poverty within its own borders, but also making a huge contribution for humanity by setting an example for all countries, including developed ones, and helping the world with Chinese ideas and a Chinese approach.
The second issue is having a sober grasp of the difficulties and challenges that we face to win the fight against poverty.
Though we have achieved great success in our fight against poverty, we also face great difficulties and challenges, and there are many salient problems that have yet to be resolved. As the Chinese saying goes, the last tenth of the journey demands half the effort. We must be clearly aware of the arduous tasks that we face in winning the battle against poverty, the prominent practical problems that still exist, and the urgent need to resolve them. We must refrain from slowing or slackening our efforts, calculate difficulties and challenges more accurately, and make sure that we are prepared to meet and overcome them.
President Xi Jinping visits the poor family of Tan Dengzhou in Huaxi Village, Shizhu Tujia Autonomous County, Chongqing, afternoon of April 15, 2019. The President visited Chongqing from April 15 to 17, 2019, where he presided over a forum on prominent problems related to the "two assurances" and "three guarantees" drive to help the poor. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER LIU BIN
First, with regard to our objectives in the fight against poverty, there were still 30.46 million rural poor people throughout the country as of the end of 2017, and poverty rate remained above 3%. Lifting more than 30 million people out of poverty within the next three years at an average annual rate of over 10 million will be no easy job, mainly because of the arduous tasks involved in alleviating poverty in deeply impoverished areas. Moreover, as we draw closer to the conclusion of our poverty alleviation campaign, we will encounter even tougher challenges.
At present, there are 7 provinces and autonomous regions with poor populations numbering over 2 million, 111 counties with poverty rates over 18%, and 16,700 villages with poverty rates over 20%. Given that the poverty rates in these counties and villages have dropped by 3 to 4 percentage points per year over the past few years, it will be extremely challenging to complete our poverty alleviation objectives within the remaining three years. In particular, the "three regions" (the Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibetan ethnic areas in Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan provinces, and the four prefectures of Hotan, Aksu, Kashgar, and Kizilsu in southern Xinjiang) and the "three prefectures" (Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan, Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan, and Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu) are not only faced with poverty that is prevalent and profound, but also feeble foundations, complex causes of poverty, serious lag in development, and insufficient public services. Some areas have almost no resources or infrastructure to speak of, making it even more difficult for them to shake off poverty. According to statistics, 51% of the country's poor people are living in registered poor villages, which face widespread problems such as inept management from village Party branches and village committees, seriously lagging infrastructure and public services, lack of village roads, paths to dwellings, and sanitation facilities, and large numbers of dilapidated houses that need to be renovated or rebuilt. Moreover, it is a common phenomenon for poor villages to have nobody to take charge and no money to get things done.
Currently, more than 40% of registered poor people sink into poverty due to medical expenses, and more than 14% due to disability; 32.7% lack the physical ability to work, while 31.1% lack sufficient professional skills; and more than 16% are senior citizens aged 65 and over. These groups will swell to even larger proportions in the future. They are the poorest of the poor, and the most difficult people to lift out of poverty. Helping these particular groups is the most prominent challenge that we face in the fight against poverty.
In addition, there is also the prevalent problem of poor people easily shaking off poverty in the short term, but finding it difficult to make steady progress toward prosperity over the long term. Poverty alleviation through industrial development is the fundamental approach to steadily lifting people out of poverty. However, in most regions, measures that follow this approach are focused more on making short-term gains rather than capturing long-term benefits and steadily increasing incomes, and therefore fail to be effective in the long run. To win the fight against poverty, it is crucial that we directly and effectively address the important questions of how to consolidate our success in poverty alleviation and achieve lasting results.
Second, with regard to our poverty alleviation work, the problems of formality for formality's sake, bureaucratism, falsification, impetuous and war-weary attitudes, and corruption still exist, and are very serious in some cases, thus hindering poverty alleviation efforts. Since poverty alleviation involves direct engagement with poor areas, poor people, and the general public, misconduct and corruption that have become known will have the most immediate impact on the people and invite the most intense reaction from them. I have already talked about these issues on several occasions, but I want to emphasize them again today in the hope that everybody will treat them with the highest vigilance.
Formality for formality's sake and bureaucratism are mainly reflected in the large numbers of meetings held, forms filled out, and inspections conducted. According to one report, village-stationed officials are currently up to their necks in all sorts of paperwork that they are required to do in the course of poverty alleviation work, including questionnaires, rosters, information collection forms, assistance records, and household visit records. In one place, there are four layers of files for targeted poverty alleviation, namely household visit records, household files, village-level files, and county-level archives. The situation is utterly bewildering, with each household required to fill out 10 different forms while village-level files including 21 documents in four categories and county-level archives including 25 documents in four categories. Some places even stipulate that poverty alleviation files must be filled out by village-stationed first secretaries, with all documents in triplicate. Moreover, errors and alterations are not permitted. If a change must be made, all three copies have to be edited simultaneously. This makes every single change a huge hassle, and wastes time that could have been spent genuinely advancing poverty alleviation. It is now a running joke that with all of this paperwork, first secretaries of Party branches don't have any time left to actually alleviate poverty, but to work as full-time paperwork secretaries. Furthermore, lower-level officials are overwhelmed by large numbers of inspections. One county Party secretary reported that he had more visits than he could handle, once receiving four inspection and research teams representing central, provincial, departmental, and municipal authorities in a single day. According to media reports, one county spent over 100,000 yuan just to print the documents distributed to the poverty alleviation inspection teams that it hosted. We should absolutely not be devoting so much money and effort to the handling of inspections. Lastly, an over obsession with formality exists in evaluation. In some cases, officials only care about whether documents are fully prepared, forms are filled out properly, and residents are able to answer questions. Meanwhile, they fail to pay sufficient attention to issues of substance such as regional development, policy implementation, and the people's sense of fulfillment. Policies are also sometimes misunderstood or forgotten despite being publicized multiple times, since it is most often children or the elderly who are at homein poor households. Even so, if households provide incorrect or inaccurate responses during random third-party inspections, local officials are blamed for having not performed their work effectively, which makes these officials feel like they have been treated unfairly.
Sloppy management and old and new problems in the use of funds still remain. Some departments are not thorough in their investigations and provide guidance that is divorced from reality. This results in ineffective and imprecise policy implementation. In some localities, basic tasks such as accurate identification of poor households have not been completely performed. Even after several rounds of screening, there are still problems like preferential treatment for friends and relatives and failure to identify those truly in need. In some cases, officials have set quotas or put their family and friends first in poverty screening. As a result, some people have been included in the poor population despite not meeting the requirements for registration, while others who are truly living in poverty have been overlooked. People in some places have an erroneous understanding of the policy of lifting poor population living in inhospitable areas out of poverty through relocation. Regardless of actual local conditions, they have relocated people merely for the sake of relocating poor people without comprehensive planning or thorough consideration about where these people should be moved to or how they should earn a living once they get there. Some officials have unilaterally decided to lower the bar for relocation, which has increased the debt burdens of local governments and the people. In some places, officials have launched vanity projects or showcase projects. Some officials have simply distributed money and supplies, do things arbitrarily for the poor people without asking for their permission, or evenacted in a coercive manner. Taking advantage of supplementary resources for poverty alleviation, some have launched broad and unrestrained projects in their local area. With regard to the use and management of poverty alleviation funds, problems such as fraudulent claims and embezzlement have occurred from time to time, mainly in townships and villages. In some places, poverty alleviation projects are not rationally planned, with funds left idle or squandered as a result, while in others the use of funds is not open and transparent, leaving the public in the dark and making supervision difficult. Meanwhile, although cases of corruption in poverty alleviation committed by low-level officials may be isolated incidents involving small sums of money, we must not underestimate the harm that they cause. Even a small leak will sink a great ship. If this type of misconduct is allowed to spread and grow, it will not only diminish the effects of our fight against poverty, but also damage the image of the Party and the government in the minds of the people.
Deception and manipulation of figures has also occurred on occasion. People in some localities have claimed that they have exited poverty before they could guarantee that the poor people have access to compulsory education, basic medical services, and safe housing (referred to below as "three guarantees"). In an effort to artificially inflate incomes and show the elimination of poverty on paper, some places have misrepresented anticipated income as actual income for the year, or used tricks of calculation to show expected proceeds from products that have not been sold as cash income. In some areas, the annual poverty alleviation target was broken down equally to lower levels, so as to pick the best out of a mediocre bunch at the end of the year as houses that have existed poverty. Some households were asked to claim that they had exited poverty just one year after they were registered as poor households. All these problems are the result of an excessive focus on statistical targets in poverty alleviation. Some places concentrated projects, funds, and technological resources on certain households, but withdrew support and shifted it to other households once they were determined through evaluation to have exited poverty. Without support, households that had just been lifted out of poverty were at risk of slipping back into poverty, but were nevertheless ignored since they had already been moved out of the poverty list. This represents a fickle and uncommitted approach to poverty alleviation. Some localities have adopted assault tactics in fighting poverty, concentrating energy and resources for a short amount of time in an attempt to get people out of poverty within a year of their registration. Some have simply relied on subsistence allowances to alleviate poverty, and others have tried to gloss over impropriety by being deceptive during evaluations.
President Xi Jinping talks with residents of Fumin New Village, which is located in the Huanghuatan ecological resettlement area in Gulang County, Wuwei City, Gansu Province, morning of August 21, 2019 during a tour of the province from August 19 to 22. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER JU PENG
In some localities, governments took on large amounts of debt in the name of fighting poverty, or illicitly raised funds under the pretense they would be used for poverty alleviation. They associated all of what they do with poverty alleviation, vied for resources and projects by trying to make their initiatives appear more attractive, and expanded local government debt. We must resolutely guard against and rectify these problems. Some departments implemented policies and measures that neither focused on poverty alleviation nor benefited poor people. These policies and measures were excessively comprehensive, carelessly formulated, and could not stand up to scrutiny; they were not targeted in any sense of the word. Officials in some areas have raised standards to try and get the attention of their superiors.
Without fear of disappointing the public, they have made unrealistic promises to poor households, such as not having to pay or wait in line to see a doctor. They have also warped the "three guarantees," promising poor people that they can have unlimited free education and medical care and that they can move into large, newly-built houses or even houses procured at market prices when their old homes are demolished. Blindly raising standards in disregard of national conditions and local realities will not only make the fight against poverty more difficult and unsustainably exacerbate burdens on government finance, but also produce a "cliff effect" between support for households that are registered as living in poverty and those that are not, which will in turn breed new social inequality. If standards are set so high that we cannot reach them, it will damage the credibility of the Party and the government.
Party committees at all levels and relevant departments must face these problems head on, and adopt effective measures to address them as quickly as possible.
The third issue is fighting effectively against poverty on all fronts.
Overall plans for the fight against poverty were introduced at the 19th CPC National Congress, while specific arrangements have been made at the Central Economic Work Conference, the Central Rural Work Conference, and the Central Poverty Alleviation and Development Work Conference. Acting in accordance with these plans and arrangements, we must make enhancing the quality of poverty alleviation the priority, concentrate our efforts on deeply impoverished areas, secure solid progress in all of our initiatives, and fight effectively againstpoverty on all fronts. To be more specific, we should focus on the following eight tasks.
First, bolstering organization and leadership. The battle against poverty is tough, but one that we must win; this is our Party's solemn commitment to the whole nation. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, poverty alleviation is the only task for which principal leaders of provincial-level Party committees and governments have signed pledges promising the Party Central Committee and the central government that they will get the job done. Officials of Party and government bodies at all levels, and particularly the heads of these bodies, must better fulfill their political obligations, foster a stronger sense of responsibility, and personally take action with keen understanding of the historic mission that rests on their shoulders. Here I want to stress that Party committees and governments of impoverished counties assume the principal responsibility for the fight against poverty while heads of these Party committees and governments bear primary responsibility. In this decisive stage, our ranks of officials must remain stable and make the fight against poverty the main focus of their energy. That being said, officials who are not up to the demands of their office must be promptly replaced, while those who exhibit deceptive behavior must be held to account. Relevant departments of the central government should work on formulating an action plan for the fight against poverty and establish a clear timetable and road map for the next three years, thereby guiding us toward victory.
Second, sticking to our established targets and standards. The objectives of our fight against poverty are to eradicate absolute poverty by ensuring that all rural residents falling below China's current poverty line are lifted out of poverty, and to resolve the region-wide poverty by ensuring that all poor counties leave poverty behind. Poverty alleviation standards are important benchmarks for identifying target groups, formulating assistance measures, and assessing the results of related initiatives. The CPC Central Committee has repeatedly emphasized that in this crucial stage of the fight against poverty, the standards for poverty alleviation are to make solid progress toward realizing the "two assurances" (assuring the rural poor population that their food and clothing needs will be met) and the "three guarantees," and to bring the key indicators for basic public services in poor areas close to the national average. We must remain committed to these objectives and standards, and not deviate from them. While ensuring that we do not lower standards or cut corners on quality, we must also make sure that we do not set standards or expectations too high.
Third, strengthening systems and mechanisms. We must continue the system of management whereby the central leadership formulates overarching plans, provincial authorities assume overall responsibility, and city and county authorities take charge of implementation. In formulating overarching plans, the central leadership produces effective top-level designs, which are mainly concerned with establishing policies and providing funds for local poverty eradication on the one hand, and tightening oversight over the evaluation of results on the other. In assuming overall responsibility, provincial authorities must play the role of an intermediate link that translates the CPC Central Committee's major polices into concrete plans for implementation, while ensuring that they are fully executed by strengthening guidance and supervision. In implementing these plans, city and county authorities must act according to local conditions and see that poverty alleviation policies and measures take root wherever they are put into practice. Evaluation mechanisms should be constantly refined according to our progress in the fight against poverty so that the overall responsibility shouldered by provincial authorities is not only reflected in requirements for their work, but also in assessments of their performance. We should improve methods of third-party evaluation by narrowing the scope and streamlining procedures, and put primary focus on assessing progress made in fulfilling the "two assurances" and "three guarantees." Evaluations and inspections on the exits of poor counties from poverty should be organized by provincial authorities, while the central leadership will carry out spot checks over the course of its inspections in order to ensure that exits from poverty are authentic. We should also improve methods for admonishing provincial-level leaders. We will launch another campaign this year and make this a regular practice in the future so that officials are immediately admonished whenever problems are discovered.
Fourth, remaining committed to a targeted approach. To win the fight against poverty, the key lies in targeted measures. To support macro decision-making and guidance, we should improve the system for registering the poor, with a focus on strengthening data sharing and analysis. We must advance targeted policy implementation, and make solid progress on key tasks such as promoting industrial development in poor areas, relocating poor households, boosting employment, renovating dilapidated housing, improving education, providing healthcare support, and protecting the environment by acting in accordance with the requirement to take local conditions into consideration and tailor measures to individual villages, households, and people. Here I want to put particular focus on poverty alleviation through industrial development and relocation. Increasing incomes by developing local industries is a major approach in poverty alleviation that will continue to produce benefits over the long term. Though poor people may not have to worry about having enough food and clothing anymore, we must still pay attention to the agriculture industry's long-term development and avoid the short-sighted pursuit of quick payoffs. Relocating poor households from inhospitable areas is the method of poverty alleviation on which the state invests the most funding. At present, our priority should be preventing relocating people indiscriminately, moving households that need not move and leaving poor households where they are. Over the next three years, we must move as many registered poor households that are in need of relocation as possible before taking care of other households in the same area in a step-by-step manner. As for poor residents who are not yet ready to be relocated, we must first ensure that problems related to the "two assurances" and "three guarantees" are addressed. In the future, we will integrate their relocation with implementation of the rural vitalization strategy, and promote steady progress by implementing environmentally-focused relocation and other types of relocation that will help lead people out of poverty and toward prosperity in a stable and step-by-step manner.
Fifth, bolstering management of poverty alleviation funds. Poverty alleviation funds are large in quantity, cover a wide range of initiatives, go to numerous destinations, and operate in long cycles. The use and supervision of such funds is thus a great challenge and attracts a high degree of attention from various social sectors. With this in mind, we must strengthen regulation of these funds in order to achieve transparency and prevent corruption in poverty alleviation. We should increase input to ensure that the amount of funding available is commensurate with our objectives in the fight against poverty. We should enhance the consolidation of related funds and streamline management systems for rural development funds in order to ensure that consolidated funds are targeted toward anti-poverty projects and that they are efficiently and effectively used. We should establish a repository of county-level poverty alleviation projects and take steps to better evaluate and prepare for projects so that we can prevent funds from sitting idle or being used wastefully. We should improve the public information system, in which the allocation and utilization of poverty alleviation funds at the provincial, city and county levels will all be made public; programs and their use of funds at the township and village levels will be open to public scrutiny. With regard to corruption in poverty alleviation, we must intensify our policy of zero tolerance, rigorously investigating cases as soon as they are identified and holding those responsible to account.
Sixth, improving the conduct of officials. The CPC Central Committee has made it clear that the priority for the year 2018 is to improve the conduct of officials engaged in poverty alleviation. Adhering to a problem-oriented approach, we should focus on addressing prominent problems that have emerged in poverty alleviation such as low awareness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the CPC central leadership core, and keep in alignment with the Party's central leadership; unfulfilled responsibility; untargeted measures; a lack of standards in the management and use of funds; a careless attitude toward work; and lax evaluation and assessment. We should set up long-term mechanisms to address prominent problems in poverty alleviation, and make sure that we get down to the bottom of each case that is reported. Once representative cases are verified, we must see that they are brought to light and that those responsible are held to account. As for issues of conduct, we must analyze their implications, improve policies and measures, enhance institutional development, and tighten the cage of institutions.
Seventh, conducting rotational training for officials. To win the fight against poverty, we need personnel that are focused, capable, and motivated. What impoverished areas lack most are competent personnel. In recent years, we have assigned a large number of officials and competent people to poverty-stricken areas, but in the long run, no matter how much we intensify external support in this regard, there will always be a limit on the amount of personnel that can be assigned. The fundamental solution to this problem is for poor areas to rely on their own people and officials. This year, we should make the training of officials engaged in poverty alleviation at all levels a top priority. The central leadership will focus on organizing rotational training for leading officials at the provincial level. Meanwhile, provinces, cities, and counties should all step up their training efforts at different levels. Methods of training should vary from level to level, and highlight different priorities. Training for leading officials at or above the county level should be focused on enhancing their thinking and understanding, instilling in them the right perspective on their performance, helping them master the methodology of targeted poverty alleviation, and developing their ability to analyze and overcome tough challenges. Training for low-level officials should be focused on raising their capacity to deal with practical problems by adopting more practical training methods like case-based and on-the-spot learning. In this way, we will be able to foster an uncompromising contingent of officials that are proficient in poverty alleviation and capable of fighting poverty through targeted measures. We should draw in all types of people to participate in the fight against poverty and rural development, and encourage university graduates, veterans, and those who have worked or done business in cities to return to their hometowns to innovate, start businesses, or serve as village officials. We should also care for poverty alleviation officials working at the primary level, and promote those who have made outstanding achievements to higher positions, reward those who have withstood hardships, and honor those who have made heavy sacrifices, thus encouraging officials to work diligently in the fight against poverty.
Eighth, stimulating self-motivation. People living in poverty are not only the target group in our fight, but also the main actors in achieving the leap from poverty to prosperity. We should put greater stress on ensuring that our poverty alleviation efforts help people build the confidence and capacity to pull themselves out of poverty, stimulate the enthusiasm and initiative of the poor population, and offer them encouragement and guidance in changing their destiny through their own efforts. This will generate sustainable self-motivation for eradicating poverty. We should improve methods of assistance, using more measures like offering people jobs rather than handouts, rewarding and subsidizing productivity, and granting labor allowances. We should mobilize people living in poverty to take part in the implementation of assistance projects and advocate more pay for more work, while refraining from monopolizing everything or simply distributing money and supplies. We should provide better education and guidance, and push people to follow the example of role models and better themselves by holding regular publicity activities and offering material rewards and moral encouragement. We should leverage the role of village rules and folk conventions, and spread the practice of establishing councils for matters such as poverty alleviation, the deliberation of ethical issues, and weddings and funerals. We should educate and guide people living in poverty through multiple channels in casting off outmoded conventions and customs and developing new, more civilized customs. This will also help alleviate the burdens placed on the people by outdated traditions. Role models should be leading protagonists. Their stories should be spread so that the poor are motivated and feel proud of freeing themselves from poverty, and earn a better living through hard work.
In three years' time, when we achieve victory in the fight against poverty, the problem of absolute poverty that has plagued the Chinese nation for centuries will finally be resolved at the hands of this generation. This will be the great honor of our lives. Let us work together to bring this cause, which is of such great significance to the Chinese nation and all humanity, to conclusion. I am confident that as long as the whole Party and all Chinese people join hands and fight tenaciously, we are sure to secure a decisive victory against poverty.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 9, 2020)