By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) - In what could be the world's largest poverty alleviation scheme, China has been claimed to have raised all its counties out of poverty.
However, it would yet take at least a decade for China to be the "most important economy of the world," experts believe.
"China has removed all poor counties from the poverty list, and eradicated absolute poverty and regional poverty," declared President Xi Jinping.
"Nearly 100 million poor people have shaken off the poverty," said Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Huseyin Bagci of the Middle East Technical University in Turkey's capital Ankara told Anadolu Agency that China "is on the way indeed to getting out of poverty in the next ten years if the development continues this way."
“One-third of the population is above poverty line, it is indeed a great success," he said, adding, however, that poverty could not be totally eliminated.
It was in 2012 that China embarked on its mission to change the poverty-stricken lifestyle of its people, especially in rural areas.
According to China's State Council Information Office, the Xi-led central government managed to lift at least 832 national-level counties out of poverty in the past eight years.
The poverty alleviation program of China, which has the world’s largest population of nearly 1.4 billion inhabitants and is the second-biggest economy, has won praise from friendly countries, especially Pakistan, whose Prime Minister Imran Khan has been citing Beijing at world forums as an example in the fight poverty.
"China definitely is on the right track [...] it would be most important economy, may be earlier than 2030, and certainly biggest economy after 2030," said Bagci, who also leads Ankara-based Turkish Foreign Policy Institute.
He argued that there had been no other empire or state that "has done what China did in the last 30 years in the economy, technology and science, including COVID-19," referring to China's response to the novel coronavirus which was first reported in its city of Wuhan in December 2019 and has killed over 1.4 million people and affected over 60 million others.
- 'Sustaining the poverty alleviation program'
People living below the poverty line in China undertake vocational skills training under the poverty alleviation program. Besides, authorities have also "strengthened cooperation between the eastern and western regions" in a bid to "boost employment."
However, it remains to be seen how China will manage to sustain the progress made so far.
Officials are using "big data analysis" to make sure families "won't slip back into poverty easily."
Meanwhile, poverty alleviation monitoring teams will focus on individual families as a "serving unit." These teams will "mainly cover the poor households that have been lifted out of poverty but are unstable, and marginal households whose income is slightly higher than the poverty line."
Last March, local authorities in counties conducted "one-to-one dynamic monitoring."
Zeng Ping, an official of the CPC from Xinyu city in the southeast Jiangxi province, said: "Relying on the unified information-sharing platform and big data center in Xinyu city, a household economic status verification system covering all fields and departments in the city as well as all counties, districts and towns has been developed."
- Monitoring, assistance mechanism
The poverty alleviation departments in education, healthcare, medical insurance and housing construction regularly check the implementation of poverty alleviation policies to ensure "rural poor people are free from worries over food and clothing and have access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing, and screen their risk of returning to poverty."
"China fought the largest and most vigorous battle in human history against poverty removing all poor counties from the poverty list, and eradicated absolute poverty and regional poverty," Xi said.
The CPC Political Bureau meeting last Thursday said China should improve monitoring and assistance mechanisms to prevent people from falling back into poverty and continue to track each county's development, as well as those of villages.
Separately, a commentary on the state-run daily Global Times about the country's poverty alleviation goals said the strategy would "help improve the quality, efficiency and competitiveness of agriculture, put rural construction in an important position in socialist modernization, deepen rural reforms and enhance the integrated urban-rural development mechanism."
"The goal is to build rural areas into thriving businesses and ensure pleasant living environments, social etiquette and civility as well as effective governance and prosperity."
- 'Success without interruption, model for global south'
For Selcuk Colakoglu, director of the Ankara-based Turkish Center of Asia-Pacific Studies, China's claims on poverty alleviation show the "successful completion for the CPC targets."
Colakoglu told Anadolu Agency that the success of poverty alleviation indicated that the Chinese government's development policies were going well, including those in the "social framework."
Describing this a "success story of Chinese development of last four decades," he said Beijing was presenting this as a model for the "global south."
"Some Latin and African countries are following it closely [because] the development has happened with no interruption and has been steady where [we saw] gradual upgrading of peoples' lives," he explained.
"What Pakistan is saying today is really what China wants to hear -- it is model without any trouble, serving all segments of society and economy."