China’s Extraordinary Contribution of Poverty Reduction to Global Development Cooperation
Signed Article by H.E. Dr. Xiao Jianguo, Chinese Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Published on STL
27 January 2021
According to January’s Global Economic Prospects published by World Bank, the wide spread of COVID-19 pandemic has reversed the downward trend in global poverty for the first time in a generation and is projected to push more than 100 million people back into extreme poverty. In contrast, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the 1.4 billion Chinese, undaunted by the strike of COVID-19 and with the government and the people united as one, coordinated the work of epidemic control and socioeconomic development, have not only effectively curbed the spread of the virus, achieving decisive success in the fight against COVID-19, but also made progress in economic and social development. China’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 2.3 percent in the year 2020, exceeding the 100-trillion-yuan threshold for the first time, making China the only major economy to post growth that year. Meanwhile, the employment was generally stable, with newly increased employed people in urban areas totaled over 11 million. Breakthrough has also been achieved in poverty reduction. H.E. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China announced to the world in his 2021 New Year speech, “In 2020, China made the historic achievement of establishing a moderately prosperous society in all respects and achieved decisive success in eradicating extreme poverty”.
1. China’s Decisive Success in Poverty Reduction
The original aspiration and the mission of Chinese Communists are to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation. To eliminate poverty, to improve people’s livelihoods and achieve common prosperity are the essential requirements of socialism with Chinese characteristics nowadays.
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese government has committed to develop China into a strong country and to improve people’s livelihoods. In the past seven decades, more than 850 million Chinese were lifted out of poverty; average life expectancy more than doubled from 35 to 77 years old; the nearly 1.4 billion Chinese people have made a historic leap from destitution of subsistence towards a life of moderate prosperity. Through the recent 8 years’ of fight against poverty, under the current standard, China has eradicated extreme poverty for the nearly 100 million rural people affected, and all the 832 impoverished counties have shaken off poverty. China has met ten years ahead of schedule the poverty eradication target set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN Secretary-General António Guterres praised China as the world record-holder in poverty reduction. In the future, the Chinese Government will proactively consolidate and extend the achievements of poverty alleviation, and keep those who have been lifted out of poverty from returning to poverty, by connecting poverty relief efforts with rural vitalization strategies in particular.
2. The Contribution of China to World Poverty Reduction
As an ancient Chinese adage goes, “The greatest ideal is to create a world truly shared by all.” The inherent force driving China’s world poverty reduction is based on the following notions: the Chinese nation’s ideal of universal harmony, the Chinese tradition of internationalism and China’s sense of responsibility as a major country.
In May 2019, President Xi Jinping pointed out at the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations that, “in some parts of Asia, people, women and children in particular, are still suffering from poverty, hunger and disease”, and hoped “to eradicate poverty and backwardness that still plague people in some countries”. In June 2020, the Alliance for Poverty Eradication was formally inaugurated, China joined this initiative as the founding member. In September 2020, the Position Paper of the People’s Republic of China on the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations stressed that, “we should strengthen international cooperation on poverty reduction and prioritize this endeavor in implementing the 2030 UN Agenda so as to eradicate extreme poverty as early as possible”.
China’s economy has been growing fast, contributing over 70 percent to global poverty reduction. In recent years, China has assisted many developing countries with 180 poverty alleviation projects, and a series of other projects, such as on agricultural cooperation and ecological conservation, together with over 100 hospitals, schools and vocational training institutes erected all over the world. As an active contributor to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, China has been helping other developing countries reduce poverty, with the aims to boost agricultural progress, to support equal access to education, to improve infrastructure, and to speed up industrialization. Poverty reduction in China has set an example and has provided Chinese solutions to world poverty alleviation.
3. China Is Willing to Further Cooperation with Timor-Leste in Poverty Reduction
Timor-Leste was included in the list of least developed countries by UN. In recent year, affected by economic recession and COVID-19 pandemic, the poverty rate of Timor-Leste has risen to 45% of its population, who still has a long way to go in poverty reduction while it wants to achieve the goal to become an upper middle income country (UMIC) by 2030.
For Chinese civilization, amity and good neighborliness is the principle guiding our interactions with other countries. Since Timor-Lest’s restoration of independence in 2002, China has provided Timor-Leste significant assistance with a view to strengthen its capacity in independent and sustainable development and in poverty reduction. Likewise, we, Chinese people will never forget that when a devastating earthquake hit Wenchuan in 2008, the government and people of Timor-Leste donated 500,000$ in support of the rescue and relief efforts in China: the first donation that has ever been made to a foreign country in the history of Timor-Leste after its independence, witnessing the profound friendship between the two peoples.
“With the wind blowing from the right angle, it is time for us to set sail.” China is now fostering a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. China has continued a steady increase in the scale of its international development cooperation, giving high priority to the least developed countries and developing countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative. We hopes it can be an opportunity to further bilateral development cooperation, and provide more support and assistance to the poverty alleviation of Timor-Leste.