BEIJING, (Xinhua) — China’s hard battle against poverty has not only benefited its own development but has been a major boon globally by reducing the global impoverished population, aiding less developed regions and providing useful experience to other countries.
Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged more support policies on Friday to lift its poor people above the poverty line by 2020, when addressing the Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum held in Beijing to mark the 23rd International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Saturday. The day also marks China’s second National Poverty Relief Day.
Xi said China will work with the government and the public to fight the battle against poverty.
China has made remarkable progress in poverty relief. It has lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty in the past 30 years, accounting for about 70 percent of those brought out of poverty worldwide. The poverty rate stood at 7.2 percent last year, markedly lower from the 73.5 percent in 1990, using the country’s poverty line of 2,300 yuan (376 U.S. dollars) in annual income by 2010 price standards.
To improve living conditions, infrastructure and public services have been improved in rural areas. More people in poverty-stricken regions have enjoyed better houses, cheap electricity, clean water, improved medical services and education.
China was the first developing country to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target of reducing the population living in poverty by half ahead of the 2015 deadline.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised China’s remarkable achievements in poverty alleviation in a video message for Friday’s Forum, while Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, also said China has played a significant role in reducing poverty worldwide.
The U.N. said on an earlier occasion that China has achieved many of the MDG targets ahead of schedule, which has greatly contributed to overall realization of the goals globally.
While striving to reduce poverty at home, China has also actively supported the cause in other developing countries.
Over the past 60 years, China has provided nearly 400 billion yuan in assistance to 166 countries and international organizations, forgiven inter-governmental interest-free loans owed by heavily-indebted poor countries seven times, and given medical support to 69 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania.
At a United Nations summit in September, Xi pledged an initial 2 billion U.S. dollars to establish an assistance fund to help developing nations fight poverty, and promised more support for improvements in agriculture, trade, environmental protection, medical services and education.
Ban said on Friday the U.N. welcomes significant commitments and generous proposals from Xi and looks forward to further progress in poverty relief through its partnership with China.
The World Bank data showed there are still 800 million people living in dire poverty around the world.
China’s progress in anti-poverty work has also provided experience for countries still plagued by extreme poverty.
Tsinghua University economist Hu Angang attributed the success to the fact that China has explored its own path and gained precious experience in poverty relief.
Hu said the anti-poverty campaign has been one of the country’s major development strategies for decades, and the government has been using a special agency and overall guidelines to coordinate and promote the process.
Moreover, high and sustainable economic growth played a decisive role in reducing poverty, Hu said. The modernization of rural regions has reduced the poor population, and rising fiscal revenues have allowed the government to increase support to impoverished areas.
The central government allocated 39 billion yuan for poverty alleviation in 2013, up 18.9 percent year on year. In 2014, the figure was raised another 10 percent to 43.3 billion.
However, the battle against poverty is still not an easy task and more effort is needed for further progress.
“Despite the achievements, China remains the world’s biggest developing country, and narrowing the urban-rural gap remains a big challenge for us,” Xi said.
As of the end of 2014, China still had 70.17 million people in the countryside living in poverty, data showed.