Actively Promoting International Cooperation on Poverty Reduction to Advance the Development of a Global Community with a Shared Future
The eradication of poverty is an endeavor that concerns the future of humanity. With over 700 million people still living below the poverty line, it remains an urgent task confronting the international community. Throughout its fight to overcome poverty, China has committed to working with the rest of the world. It has joined with other countries to promote international progress on poverty reduction and contributed to collective efforts to build a world where poverty is a thing of the past and all the people are able to share in prosperity. These efforts have helped advance the development of a global community with a shared future.
After fulfilling its poverty alleviation tasks for the year 2020, China will have accomplished the sustainable development goal of eradicating absolute poverty in the 2030 Agenda a full ten years ahead of the scheduled deadline. China's remarkable progress in poverty alleviation is a magnificent chapter in humanity's history of fighting poverty, and it holds major significance for global poverty reduction.
China's contribution has helped accelerate progress in global poverty reduction.
Thanks to forty years of continuous hard work, 700 million people in China have shaken off poverty, a figure which accounts for over 70% of the global total. This is the most successful example of poverty alleviation in history. Since our battle against poverty began, the Chinese people have proceeded with sure and steady steps. We have tackled one tough problem after another and navigated difficult and challenging waters. Between the end of 2012 and the end of 2019, the population living below the poverty line fell from 98.99 million to 5.51 million. The poverty headcount ratio fell from 10.2% to 0.6%, with 10 million people being lifted out of poverty each year for seven years running. And China's enormous success has been a spur for the cause of global poverty reduction. Without China's achievements, the millennium development goal of halving the proportion of the global poor population would have been unattainable, while the sustainable development goal in the 2030 agenda of eradicating absolute poverty would simply be out of reach.
China's approach has pointed the way for cooperation on poverty reduction.
General Secretary Xi Jinping has stated, "Building a new model of international exchange and cooperation for poverty alleviation, which is centered on mutually beneficial cooperation, is an important step in eradicating poverty." For years, China has participated constructively in efforts to resolve the issues of hunger, refugees, disease, and conflict based on the principles of mutual respect, fairness and justice, and mutual benefit, doing its very best to eliminate the breeding grounds of poverty. Based on an international development framework centered on North-South cooperation and complemented by South-South cooperation, it has worked to foster a favorable environment for poverty reduction by encouraging developed countries to increase development assistance to developing nations, and by working to develop a fairer and more balanced global-development partnership. We have advocated poverty reduction exchanges and experience sharing among the international community, and called for support for developing countries to turn their resource endowments into an edge in development and to boost their capacity for self-development. This has helped bolster the endogenous forces driving poverty reduction around the world.
China has played its due role in advancing global poverty reduction.
While working to eradicate poverty at home, China has done everything in its power to help other developing countries shake off poverty. It has established the China-UN Peace and Development Fund and the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, fully implemented the 100 poverty reduction programs announced by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the South-South Cooperation Roundtable Meetings, and achieved solid progress in cooperation programs under Cooperation Initiative on Poverty Reduction in East Asia and the China-Africa poverty reduction plan. China has built 24 agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa, benefitting more than 500,000 local people. It has hosted over 100 training courses and provided training to almost 3,000 poverty reduction professionals from 116 developing countries. It has also forged new engines for development and poverty reduction by continuously working to align the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. According to a report by the World Bank, the BRI will help 7.6 million people in participating countries escape extreme poverty, and lift a further 32 million people out of moderate poverty. Indeed, the BRI is generating powerful forward momentum for global poverty reduction.
China's determination has helped boost confidence in international development.
The spread of Covid-19 around the world has posed severe challenges to reducing global poverty. According to a World Bank report, anywhere between 70 and 100 million people will slide into extreme poverty in 2020 because of the coronavirus epidemic. Almost three years of poverty reduction achievements in the world's poorest countries will be wiped out. At such a critical juncture for humanity, General Secretary Xi's words have resonated deeply: "Lifting all rural residents living below the current poverty line out of poverty by 2020 is a pledge that the CPC Central Committee has made to the people of China; it must be fulfilled on time, without any backtracking or compromise." (see "Speech at the Symposium on Securing a Decisive Victory in the Fight Against Poverty," March 6, 2020).
These words are a reflection of the CPC's strategic resolve and the Chinese people's confidence in development. The determination and actions of China in advancing its fight against poverty have greatly boosted the confidence and drive of the international community to overcome the adverse impact of Covid-19 and achieve poverty reduction and development.
An agriculture expert from China (left) and a local technician conduct a seed selection test for hybrid rice in a paddy field southwest of Lahore, Punjab Province, eastern Pakistan, July 10, 2019. While fighting to eradicate poverty within its own borders, China has devoted consistent effort to working with other countries around the world on advancing global poverty reduction, with the goal of building a better world in which there is shared prosperity and poverty is kept at bay. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER JIANG CHAO
China has successfully identified a distinctive approach to poverty reduction, after many explorations and tireless efforts based on its national conditions. China's methods and experience, which have provided reference to other developing countries, are of great international importance. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that targeted poverty reduction strategies are the only way to reach those farthest behind and achieve the ambitious targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and that China's experiences can provide valuable lessons to other developing countries (see "Speech at the Symposium on Securing a Decisive Victory in the Fight Against Poverty," March 6, 2020). China has attained new levels in adapting Marxist theory on combating poverty to Chinese conditions through its practical explorations in fighting poverty. These explorations provide a successful case study for the cause of global poverty reduction.
First, follow a suitable path.
As the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome. However, as a vast, complex, and systematic project, poverty eradication must be based on the actual conditions of a country. It must coalesce political consensus, reinforce political will, and respect the laws of development. It should fully tap a country's potential and give ample play to its comparative national strengths. Countries need to formulate well-conceived poverty reduction strategies that account for national conditions and generate powerful synergy across all levels of government and all sectors of society.
Second, keep the focus on development.
A technician installs digital television equipment at the Kakiri SOS Children's Village in the Ugandan capital Kampala, July 20, 2018. The "10,000 Villages Project" was one of the initiatives for cooperation between China and Africa in the cultural domain introduced by President Xi Jinping at the Johannesburg Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2015. The aim of the project is to bring satellite television to 10,000 African villages. XINHUA / PHOTO BY JOSEPH KIGGUNDU
Development is the master solution to poverty. In governing and rejuvenating the country, China has persisted in pursuing development as its top priority. It has continued to unleash and develop its productive forces and kept its reforms oriented toward the development of the socialist market economy. As a result, it has created a miracle of rapid economic development. China has not only made the "cake" of social wealth bigger but also improved the way it is divided up. This has laid a rich material foundation for eliminating poverty. At the same time, acting on the new development philosophy, China has implemented a win-win policy of compensating poor people for their environmental protection efforts, made the development of education a key strategy for tackling the root causes of poverty, and set social security as the key line of defense for keeping people out of poverty. These efforts have resulted in multiple wins in economic, social, and environmental development. All countries around the world, but especially developing countries, face development challenges. To eliminate poverty, we should accelerate economic and social development and accumulate the resources needed for poverty reduction by seizing the opportunities presented by economic globalization and the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation. At the same time, we should advance our efforts in the economic, social, and environmental fields in a balanced way that will enable us use the "master key" of development to open doors that lead people out of poverty.
Third, maintain a people-centered approach.
The poor population is not just the target of poverty alleviation work but the main actor in eradicating impoverishment and creating prosperity. China's poverty reduction policy focuses on impoverished individuals. In addition to providing them with material assistance, we help people beat poverty by harnessing their ambition and knowledge, and use tailored measures to enable people to tap their energy and creativity and to change their futures by dint of their own efforts. The moderately prosperous society that China builds will be enjoyed by each and every Chinese person. This pledge echoes the goal in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to "leave no one behind." However, to achieve this goal, we need all countries involved in a global poverty alleviation process that benefits and is reliant on the people, and will harness their willpower and potential to deliver results.
Fourth, take precise and practical measures.
Precision is the most precious and important element of China's fight against poverty and the key ingredient to its success. China pursues a basic strategy of precision poverty assistance and poverty alleviation. On this basis, we have worked to develop a threefold framework based on special programs, industry initiatives, and the efforts of society. We have promoted poverty reduction initiatives such as helping groups achieve poverty alleviation through the five pathways of production development, relocation, environmental compensation, education development, and social security and through ten major programs (stationing officials in villages, providing vocational training and micro-loans, relocating people from inhospitable areas, developing e-commerce, tourism, and solar energy, promoting afforestation, training pacesetters for the push to prosperity, and tapping leading enterprises to spur others). We have developed new pathways of implementation such as east-west cooperation and paired assistance programs, and carried out regular inspections and stringent evaluations to ensure genuine poverty is identified, real assistance is provided, and tangible results are delivered.
In fighting poverty, it is essential that precise measures are applied, as a deluge of policies fails to hit the nail on the head more often than not. Macro-strategies are certainly important, but it is even more important to pay attention to methods and tactics to ensure they are suitable, proportionate, and accurate. By making solid efforts in this regard, we can achieve the best possible results with intensive and efficient investment and accomplish poverty reduction goals through consistent hard work.
Fifth, pursue mutually beneficial opening up.
General Secretary Xi Jinping has said on several occasions that "China will not close its door to the world, rather it will only become more and more open." China cannot develop in isolation from the world, and China's success in poverty alleviation is inextricably linked to the historic undertaking of reform and opening up. Seizing the opportunities of our times, we have continually pursued higher-quality foreign cooperation on a broader scale and at a deeper level, tapped both domestic and international markets and resources to realize development, and rallied support both at home and abroad, for China's poverty alleviation endeavors. We have mobilized enthusiasm across all sectors to achieve poverty reduction tasks and opened a window of opportunity for impoverished groups to improve their livelihoods and emerge from poverty. Eliminating poverty requires openness, inclusiveness, and mutual learning. It is important to actively integrate into the process of economic globalization, and fully engage in international cooperation on development. This way, opportunities can be shared, challenges can be tackled collectively, and prosperity can be created through joint efforts.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The world has made positive progress in the cause of global poverty reduction, but there is still a long and challenging road ahead to accomplish the poverty reduction goal in the 2030 Agenda on schedule. According to a forecast by the UN, even without factoring in the impact of Covid-19, there will still be 6% of the global population living in abject poverty in 2030. At present, the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to rage, is exacerbating the deficit in poverty alleviation and casting a dark shadow over the world's poverty reduction endeavors. It is important that the international community maintains firm confidence. Acting on the vision of a global community with a shared future, we should deepen global cooperation in poverty reduction and make joint efforts to secure fresh progress in the cause of global poverty alleviation.
First, we should combat Covid-19 through cooperation and work together to get through this difficult time.
Viruses are not constrained by borders, nor do they discriminate between peoples. Covid-19 has proven once again that the world is a community with a shared future. Unity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons we have for defeating this disease, which threatens each and every one of us. This will not be the last crisis that erupts in the era of economic globalization, and various conventional and non-conventional security issues will continue to put us to the test. The international community must realize that we are a community with a shared future, and we must pull together and look out for one another.
China is prepared to join with other countries to strengthen international cooperation to fight Covid-19 and make collective efforts to protect global public health security. China will continue to support the international community's efforts to fight the virus. We will share our experience in control and therapeutics, provide medical supplies and assistance, and strengthen cooperation on vaccine development; we will support developing countries in overcoming Covid-19 and stabilizing their economies to ensure that they keep forging ahead in poverty reduction and development.
Second, we should build international consensus and generate synergy for poverty alleviation.
As poverty is a problem for all countries, we will need to strengthen unity and mount a joint response to secure a complete victory over impoverishment and accomplish the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Taking advantage of the Decade of Action initiative, the international community should firmly make poverty reduction a priority and core task of global development cooperation. It should take more proactive steps to ramp up inputs into this sector and strive to ensure the main goals of the 2030 Agenda are accomplished on schedule. Continuing to work within the frameworks of the UN, the G20, APEC and the BRICS, China will actively encourage the international community to place development at the heart of macro policy and promote the weighting of funding toward poverty alleviation, education, health, infrastructure development, and other fields related to people's wellbeing. China will keep working to coalesce political willpower to wipe out poverty in all its forms.
Third, we should pursue mutually beneficial cooperation and improve the environment for poverty alleviation.
A peaceful, stable, open, and inclusive environment is essential for advancing cooperation on poverty alleviation. To build a solid foundation for peace and development, the international community should firmly defend multilateralism, safeguard the international system centered on the UN and the multilateral trading system centered on the WTO, and pursue both a governance philosophy based on extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits and a concept of comprehensive common security based on cooperation and sustainability. China will continue to do all it can to facilitate free trade and build an open world economy. We will work to ensure the stability and smooth operation of global supply chains and strive to make economic globalization more open, inclusive, and balanced so that its benefits are shared by all, thus ensuring the "pie" is not only made bigger but divided up better. Achieving this will create favorable conditions for eradicating poverty in developing countries.
Fourth, we should make joint efforts to advance the BRI.
As a vehicle for the common development aspirations of all parties, the BRI is closely aligned with the 2030 Agenda. It has an important role to play in breaking development bottlenecks, narrowing development gaps, and achieving poverty alleviation in all countries. China will continue to strengthen strategic alignment with countries participating in the BRI, promote infrastructure connectivity across the board, and engage in practical cooperation in key areas such as transportation, communications, energy, trade, finance, and the internet, so as to promote industrial upgrading and create greater space for economic growth. We will continue to adhere to the concept and requirement that joint development of the BRI should be based on high standards, be beneficial to the people, and be sustainable. We will make improving people's wellbeing and eradicating poverty an important basis of the BRI, and promote the Green Silk Road Initiative and the Clean Silk Road Initiative. We will use these practical actions to inject new energy into global poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
Fifth, we should strengthen practical cooperation to accelerate progress on poverty alleviation.
Chinese culture has always espoused the fine virtues of assisting the poor, helping those in need, and taking pleasure in helping others. China will not forget the help and support it has received from the international community in its fight against poverty. We believe in reciprocating acts of kindness, and we will repay the international community through our concrete actions in the global cause of poverty alleviation. China will continue to deepen South-South cooperation on poverty reduction with developing countries, strengthen the sharing of governance experience and policy alignment, and develop more branded initiatives and demonstration projects. We will continue working actively to implement the important outcomes of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting, and the Ministerial Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum, carry out overseas aid projects on poverty alleviation, and provide help to developing countries to break the bottlenecks in their development.
Qi Yu is CPC Committee Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 14, 2020)