By Wang Yu, Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan
The 25th February 2021 was a special day for the Chinese people. At a grand gathering to mark the nation’s poverty alleviation accomplishments and honour model poverty fighters, Chinese President Xi Jinping solemnly declared a complete victory in the fight against poverty as the Communist Party of China (CPC) moves towards its 100th anniversary. The final 98.99 million rural residents living under the current poverty line have all been lifted out of poverty. All 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 villages have also been removed from the poverty list. With no pockets of poverty left for any region, China has accomplished the arduous task of eliminating absolute poverty, performing another human miracle that will go down in history!
While visiting a poverty-stricken area, President Xi once said that eradicating poverty, improving people’s livelihood and achieving common prosperity are essential to socialism. Since its founding, the CPC has taken it as its duty to seek happiness for all Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation. It has naturally made a solemn commitment to enable the poverty-stricken people and localities to become moderately prosperous in an all-round way together with all other people and places in China. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the process has been accelerated. The CPC Central Committee is determined that no locality or person should be left behind in poverty. It has been creative in developing new concepts of poverty alleviation with Chinese characteristics and identified the targets, projects and funds for assistance with great details, which has enabled targeted policies and measurable results for each poor household and individual. With the victory, the entire poor population are now able to feed and clothe themselves, access education and healthcare and enjoy housing security. The young and the middle-aged have jobs and the disabled are provided for and supported. Countless Chinese have in that process been empowered to live a happy life.
Moreover, China is the world’s largest developing country with nearly one-fifth of the world’s population. Over the past 40 years since the start of its Reform and Opening-up, China has reduced poverty by more than 770 million people, contributing more than 70% to global poverty reduction and performing a ‘China Miracle’ in world history. Its decisive victory in the fight against poverty represents the most direct contribution to the global governance of poverty by greatly reducing the poverty incidence of all mankind and increasing the confidence and wisdom of all mankind towards ending poverty.
Poverty and poverty reduction have always been an important topic for all mankind. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major adverse impact on economic globalization, with the world economy in further decline, global wealth gap widening and poverty becoming more chronic and obstinate. In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations put ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’ on top of the 17 sustainable development goals. This is the voice of the vast number of developing countries.
Poverty is at the root of many of the world’s problems. In the 20 years of peaceful reconstruction of Afghanistan, despite the overall economic growth posture, socio-economic development and people’s livelihood are still eroded by the protracted war. Many people live under the poverty line and in great hardship. Being fully aware of this problem, the Afghan government has been making efforts to help more people to get out of poverty and become rich, such as by improving the living environment, strengthening anti-corruption initiatives, providing relief for the poor, starting the construction of agricultural and water conservancy infrastructures, planning for the establishment of special economic zones in remote areas, promoting large-scale regional connectivity projects and tapping the country’s potential as a regional transport hub. All of these measures have produced results. But there is still a long way to go.
Over the past 40 years and more since the introduction of the Reform and Opening-up policy, the CPC has been leading the fight against poverty in an all-round way. Millions of poverty alleviation officials have taken the lead in the cause and reached every household in poverty-stricken mountainous areas. More than 1,800 people died fighting poverty on the front lines. China has in this process developed a set of poverty reduction theories with Chinese characteristics. China stands ready to share its experience in this field in good faith with other countries to support global poverty reduction.
First, China follows a people-centric development philosophy. The realization, maintenance and development of the fundamental interests of the people are the starting point and foothold for all its work. Eliminating poverty, improving people’s livelihood and achieving common prosperity have always been the fundamental purpose and major responsibility of the CPC in serving the people. In this connection, the Chinese government has always fully tapped the leading role of public finance as the main funder. It refuses to blindly develop major projects, gives priority to ensuring the use of funds for poverty alleviation and strengthening regulatory measures, and measures the level of public satisfaction in performance assessment as the indicator of the effectiveness of poverty alleviation, thus making sure that money is used to achieve real results.
Second, China pools resources to get big jobs done. ‘Big jobs’ refer to major tasks in social development, tough points of reform and things bearing on people’s vital interests and drawing on their keen attention. To pool resources, the government has to take stock of the overall situation in a holistic way, fully mobilize the people and give full play to the advantages of all available resources in various fields, thus maximizing the efficiency of resource use for sustainable development. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward three points of suggestion and expectation at the opening of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations, one of which was that the future arrangement for Afghanistan should be broadly representative and inclusive. Such an arrangement will not only accommodate the interests of all ethnic groups, political parties and religious sects but also be a magic tool to foster consensus among the Afghan people and concentrate their efforts to break out of any difficult situation.
Third, China works to eliminate the root causes of poverty through development. Its remarkable achievements in poverty reduction have been based on the Targeted Poverty Reduction strategies, including fine grained knowledge about and support for the identified poor plus targeted resources allocation. A nationwide system was created to collect and pool poverty-related information on household basis and support the uses of resources truly for the target groups and identified poverty-stricken areas. In addition, China focuses on capacity building to enable the poor households to earn their own living, which increases the drive for sustainable development in impoverished areas. The most solid plans have been made for people to get rich and monitoring mechanisms have been put in place to identify and help those who are impoverished again for various reasons.
Fourth, the Chinese policies feature strong continuity. The CPC is the only ruling party in China and represents the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people. As the one shouldering primary responsibility, the CPC has exercised centralized and unified leadership in the fight against poverty. It takes overall responsibility and coordinates all parties involved. It has again and again readjusted and improved the pre-existing poverty reduction institutions and approaches and effectively avoided the long decision-making cycles and inefficiency prevalent in the international traditional poverty reduction work. With one overarching blueprint, all administrations have carried forward the task, with beneficial policies put in place as scheduled to enable catch-up and further development.
President Xi proposes to advance an open, inclusive, universally beneficial, balanced and win-win economic globalization, which will create favorable conditions for the common development of all mankind, eliminate poverty and backwardness in which many people still live, and enable all countries in the world to enjoy the fruits of development and all people to enjoy prosperity and well-being. China and Afghanistan have been friendly neighbours for more than 2,000 years. They have always stood by each other and become trustworthy partners. China stands ready to strengthen communication and cooperation with Afghanistan in the field of poverty reduction on the basis of full respect for the will of the Afghan side. China will provide Afghanistan with assistance and technical support within its capacity without any strings attached so that Afghanistan will eradicate poverty and achieve economic independence and peaceful development. The two countries should continue working together for a community of shared future for mankind and bringing more benefits to the Afghan people.