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​New Progress in Poverty Alleviation in China

cpad,November 29, 2017 Adjust font size:

New Progress in Poverty Alleviation in China

The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development

June 2017

Serving the people wholeheartedly has been the fundamental purpose of the Communist Party of China ( CPC ) ever since its establishment in 1921, and the happiness of the people is what all the CPC members have been fighting and working for, for generations. The founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 heralded national independence and the people’s liberation. At that time, China was poor, and most people, the vast number of farmers in particular, lived in poverty. Led by the CPC, the Chinese people abolished the feudal system of landownership in land reform movements, established a system of socialism and liberated the producti ve forces in rural areas step by step, solving the problem of feeding the whole nation.

After the initiation of reform and opening up in the late 1970s, China carried out large-scale development-oriented poverty alleviation programs across the country in a planned and organized way. A series of medium- and long-term projects have been implemented, which include the Seven-Year Program for Lifting 80 Million People Out of Poverty (1994-2000), the Outline for Development-Oriented Poverty Alleviation for China’ s Rural Areas (2001-10) and the Outline for Development-Oriented Poverty Alleviation for China’ s Rural Areas (2011-20). Poverty reduction has become an important component of China’ s national strategy.

Thanks to the constant efforts from the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, notable improvement s have been made to the infrastructure and basic public services in poverty-stricken areas, and poverty-reduction mechanisms have been innovated. Over the past 30 -plus years since the launch of reform and opening up, more than 700 million Chinese people have been raised from poverty. The number of the rural poor had fallen to 43.35 million by the end of 2016, with the incidence of poverty dropping to 4.5 percent.

The UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 shows that the number of citizens China has raised from poverty accounts for 70 percent of the world’ s total. With the most people lifted out of poverty, China has led other countries to realize the UN Millennium Development Goals and made an enormous contribution to poverty reduction worldwide. Its endeavors have been widely hailed by the international community and its achievements will go down in history. Such achievements demonstrate the leadership of the CPC and the advantages of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

While combating poverty at home, China also actively helps other developing countries to address their poverty problems. Over more than six decades since the founding of the People’ s Republic of China, the country has provided nearly 400 billion yuan of assistance to 166 countries and international organizations, sent more than 600,000 aid workers, given medical assistance to 69 countries, and aided more than 120 developing countries in realizing the UN Millennium Development Goals. On seven occasions China has announced unconditional exempt ion of debts in the form of interest-free loans owed by heavily indebted countries and least developed countries.

The CPC convened its 18th National Congress at the end of 2012 and elected a new central leading group with Xi Jinping as the g eneral s ecretary of the CPC Central Committee. The CPC Central Committee, with Xi as the core, has set lifting all impoverished people in rural areas out of poverty as a telling indicator of completing the process of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. Poverty reduction has been incorporated into China’ s overall plan for promot ing coordinated progress in economic, political, cultural, social and ecological areas and the Four-Pronged Comprehensive S trategy, which calls for completing the process of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, pursuing an all-round in-depth reform, implementing a comprehensive framework for promoting the rule of law, and launching an all - out effort to enforce strict Party discipline. Unprecedented efforts are being made to push forward poverty alleviation, an initiative high on the national governance agenda.

I. A P ivotal D ecision

After the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council conducted in-depth investigations on development-oriented poverty alleviation against the backdrop of China’ s drive to complete the process of building a moderately prosperous society. B ased on extensive consultations, it was concluded that poor regions and the poor population constitute a stumbling block in th is process and that poverty must be eliminated in order to achieve moderate prosperity. A pivotal decision was taken to carry out the strategy of targeted poverty alleviation and elimination. In November 2015, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council adopted the Decision on Winning the Fight Against Poverty, which charts the course for China’ s poverty alleviation campaign through to 2020.

1. Setting clear goals. T he state is committed to ensuring that by 2020, the impoverished rural population will have stable access to adequate food and clothing, compulsory education, and basic medical services and housing; a growth rate of per-capita disposable income in poor rural areas will be higher than the national average; indices of major basic public services will be close to the national average levels; the rural population living below the current poverty threshold and all impoverished counties will be lifted out of poverty; and the problems of regional poverty will be solved.

2. Implementing a targeted strategy. Targeted measures should be implemented in terms of funding, projects, and recipients. Every impoverished household is guaranteed help, every village has designated officials to carry out poverty eradication measures, and goals are met within the defined standards. Guided by this strategy, the Chinese Government has launched a five -pronged initiative to eradicate poverty in different regions and communities: developing local industries, relocating impoverished residents to other places, offering compensation for ecological conservation, improving education al conditions and providing a social safety net. The initiative aims to enable registered poor people shake off poverty by promoting local businesses, helping them seek employment or resettle in other areas and offering them educational and medical assistance. Moreover, social security programs will be made available to those who have completely or partially lost their ability to wor k, in order to rid them of poverty.

3. Improving the conditions for development. The government is committed to resolving development bottlenecks by accelerating the construction of transportation, water and power infrastructure. It will make the most of its Internet Plus strategy by alleviating poverty through e-commerce. It will speed up the renovation of dilapidated houses in rural areas and the improvement of the rural habitat. In this process, living and working conditions in poor villages will improve a s the government forge s ahead with the Beautiful and Livable Countryside Program. Priority will be given to former revolutionary bases, areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, border areas and contiguous regions where the living conditions are below the poverty line.

4. Strengthening the support system. While giving full play to government investment’ s principal and leading role in development-oriented poverty alleviation and ensuring that the government pumps funds into poverty alleviation programs in proportion to its responsibilities, new funding sources should be explored. The government will encourage various financial institutions, including commercial and cooperative institutions as well as those specializing in financing government policy-oriented projects and development programs, to increase their support. It will improve policies concerning the use of land for poverty alleviation purposes. Land use plans for new construction projects will be tilted in favor of those supporting poverty alleviation. Annual land use plans for new construction projects in key counties in the poverty alleviation campaign will enjoy special arrangements. Science, technology and talent will be tapped into to address critical technical issues in the development of local specialty industries and the preservation of ecosystems in poor areas. The application of practicable modern technology in poor areas will be stepped up.

5. Mobilizing society. The mechanism for collaboration between eastern and western regions on poverty alleviation will be improved. While working to accomplish their own poverty alleviation goals, eastern provinces, municipalities and major cities will assist their partners in underdeveloped regions in the west. Improvements will be made to the targeted assistance system to ensure all departments involved honor their obligations. The government will encourage private companies, social organizations and individuals to participate in development -oriented poverty alleviation to synergize social resources and government initiative s. It will call on non-governmental players to focus on assisting villages and households so that all poor households are paired up with Party members, government workers and philanthropists.

6. De fining responsibilities. China has adopted a working mechanism with the c entral a uthorities in charge of integrated plan ning, governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities taking overall responsibilities, and governments of cities (prefectures) and counties responsible for implementation. Each level shoulders its own responsibilities. Departments under the CPC Central C o mmittee and the Central Government are obligated to engage in development-oriented poverty alleviation within their scope of duties and effectively integrate departmental plans with the overall plan. Capable leaders should be selected to head the CPC committees and governments of counties with a heavy poverty alleviation workload. These leaders should remain in their positions during the poverty alleviation campaign. The competence of leaders in poor towns and townships should be enhanced, while Party organizations in villages should become more innovative, cohesive and efficient. S trict a ssessment, supervision and accountability should be enforced, while u nderachieving departments and regions are held accountable.

7. Enhancing international cooperation. China will strengthen exchanges and cooperation with other developing countries and international organizations on poverty alleviation through multiple channels such as foreign aid, project cooperation, technology transfer and think tank exchanges. While drawing on globally advanced concepts and practices, it will undertake international poverty reduction obligations. It is also committed to implementing the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and making greater contributions to the global cause of poverty reduction.

II. Work System

To ensure the goals of poverty alleviation can be achieved, the Chinese Government has designed and established an improved work system for the poverty alleviation campaign.

1. A r esponsibility system. Enhanced measures have been issued, detailing the responsibility system for poverty alleviation, in which the central authorities make integrated planning, provincial-level governments take overall responsibilities, and the governments of relevant cities and counties are responsible for implementation. This system features clearly defined responsibilities, with authorities at each level playing their due role to ensure concerted efforts are made to fight poverty. Party committees and governments of the 22 provinces and autonomous regions in central and west China have signed to the central authorities letters of commitment on poverty alleviation. Heads of Party committees and governments of impoverished counties will remain in their positions during the poverty alleviation campaign. A working mechanism has been formed, with secretaries of Party committees at the five levels of province, city, county, town and village leading the poverty alleviation work and all Party members mobilized to assist in solving the poverty problem.

2. A p olicy system. The State Council has issued a poverty-reduction plan for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20). Related departments under the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have enacted 118 relevant policy documents and implementation plans. Local governments have also formulated or substantiated their specific policies for poverty alleviation, which include such measures as developing local industries, relocating people from impoverished areas, helping laborers from impoverished areas find jobs elsewhere, improving transportation infrastructure and water conservancy facilities in poor areas, offering education al, medical and financi al assistance, and renovating dilapidated house s in rural areas. Among these policies, there are measures targeting many long-standing problems.

3. A funding System. The Central Government has made it clear that its funding should keep pace with the needs to win the fight against poverty. In 2016, the special funds for poverty alleviation appropriated by central and provincial-level governments exceeded 100 billion yuan for the first time, with 66.7 billion yuan from the Central Government, a year-on-year increase of 43.4 percent and 49.3 billion yuan from provincial-level governments, a year-on-year increase of 56.1 percent. A total of 60 billion yuan in local government debt was made available for improving living and production conditions in poverty-stricken areas. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, the Central Government plans to provide provincial-level investment and financing organizations for development-oriented poverty relief with around 250 billion yuan, which will be specifically used for the relocat ion of people from impoverished areas. Various financial institutions have also scaled up their support for poverty alleviation. A special financial bond of 72.6 billion yuan has been issued for relocating impoverished population. The total amount of th is special financial bond to be issued during the 13th Five-Year Plan period will exceed 350 billion yuan. Small loans for poverty alleviation increased by 170.6 billion yuan in 2016 and reached 283.3 billion yuan in total since the plan began, with 8.02 million poor families getting support. The ratio of poor families get ting the loans rose to 26.7 percent in 2016 from a mere 2 percent at the end of 2014. The government has also issued relending policies for poverty alleviation. Insurance and securities sectors have intensified their efforts to support poverty alleviation.

4. A mobilization system. The Central Government has issued the guidelines for coordinating eastern and western regions on enhancing poverty alleviation and the guidelines for targeted poverty alleviation. It has adjusted and improved the collaboration mechanism between east and west China in poverty alleviation, with all the 30 ethnic autonomous prefectures getting support from their paired cities. As part of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration strategy, Beijing and Tianjin have been tasked with helping address poverty in Zhangjiakou, Chengde and Baoding of Hebei Province. The collaboration will see 267 economically developed eastern counties assist 406 poor counties in west China to gain prosperity. A total of 320 units under the central authorities have taken the responsibility for helping 592 poor counties. The People’ s Liberation Army and the Chinese People’ s Armed Police Force have provide d help for more than 2,000 villages. The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council has convinced some centrally administered state-owned enterprises into setting up industrial investment funds for impoverished regions, and organized the“100 counties and 10,000 villages” campaign for poverty alleviation. The All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce has mobilized 22,000 privately owned enterprises to join in the“ 10,000 enterprises assisting 10,000 villages” campaign. The State Council has set October 17 as the Day for the Eradication of Poverty and set up several awards for poverty alleviation work, including awards for endeavor, contribution, dedication and innovation, to honor those for their outstanding efforts made.

5. A supervision system. The c entral authorities have adopted a system to supervise and inspect the poverty reduction work and performance of local governments and related departments. Poverty alleviation work has become an important part of the CPC Central Committee’s inspection process. Democratic supervision activities have been carried out. The central committees of China’ s eight non-CPC parties have also taken the responsibility of supervising poverty reduction work in eight provinces with large poor population and high incidence of poverty. Their supervision will last for five years. A hotline—12317— has been set up for public report and supervision over misconduct in poverty alleviation work, through which competent departments have intensified cooperation with disciplinary inspection, audit and finance departments, as well as media and the public to supervise poverty reduction efforts. The results of the all-around supervision will be used in the evaluation of poverty alleviation work.

6. An evaluation system. The c entral authorities have launched a mechanism to evaluate the performance of provincial-level Party committees and governments in development-oriented poverty alleviation campaign. From 2016 to 2020, the evaluation, organized by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, is due to be carried out annually. The evaluation focuses on the effect of poverty reduction, activities for identifying the poor and needy and helping them out of poverty, and the use of funds for poverty alleviation, in order to ensure the quality of poverty alleviation work. In 2016, the work done in the 22 provinces and autonomous regions in central and west China was evaluated through inter-provincial examinations, third-party evaluations, reference to poverty monitoring data and registered impoverished households data, evaluation of the use of special funds for poverty alleviation, auditing and public supervision. Those provinces or autonomous regions that performed poorly were held to account.

III. Priorities

In carrying out the targeted poverty alleviation strategy, much attention will be paid to the issues as to who are the needy for assistance, who are responsible for the work, what assistance measures should be adopted, and how to implement an exit mechanism for those who have been lifted out of poverty. Priorities will be given to the following aspects in the poverty alleviation campaign.

1. Creating profiles for impoverished people nationwide. In 2014, the Chinese Government conducted a nationwide survey to collect accurate information on the poor population and created profiles on them. Organized by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities sent 800,000 staff to villages for field investigation. They registered 128,000 poor villages, 29.48 million poor households and 89.62 million people living in poverty. The registration work gathered information such as the distribution of the country’s impoverished population, causes of poverty and requirements for overcoming poverty and helped establish a unified information system for development-oriented poverty alleviation. From August 2015 to June 2016, a second - round registration program involving nearly 2 million staff members was conducted to update the figure. In this round, 8.07 million people were added to the registration list while 9.29 million were removed for being misidentified. Creating profiles for impoverished people has enriched China’s official data on poverty alleviation, providing important reference for its five-pronged initiative policies on targeted poverty alleviation.

2. Sending work teams to impoverished villages. Based on the policy arrangement of the c entral authorities, work teams are sent to all impoverished villages to ensure every poor household is covered. In total, 775,000 government staff members nationwide have been appointed to temporary posts working on poverty alleviation in poor villages with their terms of service ranging from one to three years. Meanwhile 188,000 selected staff member s have been sent to serve as“ f irst s ecretary” of Party committees of poor villages by the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee. This is designed to strengthen and improve the Party organization s in poor villages in an attempt to lead the villagers out of poverty. First secretaries and work teams have promote d the implementation of poverty alleviation measures by giving suggestions and concrete assistance to villagers. Local governments have adopted a variety of measures to strengthen management, supervision and evaluation of staff sent to poor villages. Those who fail to make a substantive difference can be recalled in some provinces. Also, s ome provinces send young civil servants to work in poor villages before promoting them, as they will gain much experience at the forefront of poverty alleviation efforts.

3. Adopting corresponding measures to help diverse poor families. Developing local industries and relocating impoverished people are a priority. Pilot projects were carried out on relocating poor laborers to find jobs in other regions in Guangdong, Hunan and Hubei provinces, and the model has been gradually promoted nationwide. Increased efforts have been made to alleviate poverty through education, by placing more educational resources in poverty-stricken areas. Poverty alleviation through medical security has also been implemented. The government has mobilized 800,000 primary health care workers to visit poor families and check their physical conditions and more than 1 million patients from poor families have received treatment. Poverty eradication through ecological conservation is another area making progress, with 280,000 registered people living in poverty employed as forest rangers. The alignment of the subsistence allowances system in rural areas with development-oriented poverty alleviation policies has been promoted. The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, together with related departments, have carried out campaigns for poverty alleviation through series of measures. These include prioritizing education, strengthening medical security, funding, improving transportation infrastructure and water conservancy facilities, developing laborer cooperation, renovating neglected and dangerous buildings, promoting science and technology, as well as the“100 counties and 10,000 villages” campaign launched by centrally administered state-owned enterprises and the“ 10,000 enterprises assisting 10,000 villages” campaign joined by privately owned enterprises. They have also organized poverty alleviation programs such as entire-village advancement, vocational education training, collateral-free small loans, relocating people from impoverished areas, and developing e-commerce, tourism and photovoltaic industries. Pilot projects for developing e-commerce for poverty relief have been carried out in 428 counties; 22,600 poor villages have begun developing their tourism resources and 30,000 poor villages have been engaged in the photovoltaic industry.

4. Strengthening fund management. The Central Government has formulated regulations on the management of the special funds for poverty alleviation in order to ensure all the funds to be used on the poor. It is trying to transfer the approval rights of poverty alleviation projects to county-level governments, with 95 percent of such rights transferred in 2016, compared with the 70 percent in 2014. The State Council has issued a policy to encourage poverty-stricken counties for pilot integrate d use of fiscal fund ing for agricultural development, with more than 230 billion yuan having be en appropriated for poverty alleviation. The Ministry of Finance and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development have carried out a joint examination and appraisal of the use of the special fund, with a batch of illegal cases being investigated. The state has strengthened supervision over disciplined execution and auditing in poverty alleviation, and launched a special campaign to prevent and address abuses of power in this field, with the joint efforts of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Supreme People’ s Procuratorate, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, and the National Audit Office. Under the concerted supervising efforts of these related parties, the number of illegal cases concerning special funds for poverty alleviation has declined sharply.

IV. Major Achievements

From 2013 to 2016, China’s rural poor population decreased by 55 million, meeting the goal of annually reducing the poor population by more than 10 million for four successive years, which remains a record in the country’s poverty reduction history. From 1986 to 2000, during which the first poverty line was implemented, China reduced its poor population by an annual average of 6.39 million. From 2001 to 2010, during which the second poverty line was implemented, an annual average of 6.73 million poor people rose out of poverty. Since the third poverty line was set in 2011, an annual average of 13.17 million poor people had been lifted out of poverty as of 2016. The annual reduction of the poor population has been increasing after the third poverty line was set, reversing the previous trend of a drop in reduction after a new poverty line was set. Moreover, the annual number of reduced poor population has been more than 10 million, which is unprecedented.

Meanwhile, income growth of rural residents in the poverty-stricken areas was 2 percentage points higher than the national average level during the 2013-16 period. Basic living and production conditions in poor areas have been improved further. Lack of access to potable water, education, medical services and safe housing has also been gradually rectified. Jinggangshan and Lankao counties were among the first to shake off poverty, setting a good example for others.

China’s achievement of large-scale poverty reduction along with rapid economic growth, which is also a contribution to the world’s poverty reduction cause, is attributed to five factors. First, the political advantage of the CPC leadership and the institutional advantage of socialism with Chinese characteristics are the fundamental guarantees for the success of poverty reduction in China. Second, adhering to reform and opening up and maintaining sustainable economic growth are the prerequisites for the success of China’s poverty reduction. Third, the government has played the leading role in reducing poverty by mak ing long-term plans and setting annual targets. Fourth, the strategy of targeted poverty alleviation and elimination has been adopted, with different measures tailor - made for different regions according to local conditions, to ensure the effect of poverty reduction. Fifth, the market’s role in poverty alleviation is of great importance. A motivated society has also become a powerful force in poverty alleviation. In the future, efforts will be made to continue these practices, striving to make poor regions and poor people benefit more from China’s development. At the same time, China will continue strengthening exchange and cooperation with the international community to contribute its efforts to global poverty reduction.

Case Studies

Microfinance for Poverty Alleviation

Microfinance is a tailored financial service for registered poor households. It features collateral-free small loans, of up to 50,000 yuan on a three-year term, at benchmark interest rates, with interest subsidies from government poverty alleviation funds and risk compensation from county-level funds. Microfinance effectively solves problems of poor households facing difficulty in getting loans and being unable to shoulder the high interest rates of loans. Poor households had received small loans of 283.3 billion yuan by the end of 2016. This translated to 26.7 percent of China’s destitute households receiving loans, compared with 2 percent in 2014. About 7.4 million households benefited from the policy. Take Yanchi County in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region for example. Eighty-six percent of poor households in this county received small loans totaling 540 million yuan to develop industries such as sheep raising and daylily planting, enabling 8,181 poor households to benefit from an average annual income raise of 12,000 yuan.

Microfinance aims to target the need for poor households to develop local businesses. It inspires impoverished farmers to become entrepreneurs and teaches them about the importance of the market, risk control and credit by introducing flexible financial services into destitute areas. In the future, offices of poverty alleviation and development at all levels will take microfinance as a major measure to implement the policy of targeted poverty reduction. They will also assist poor households in acquiring loans and promote the sound development of microfinance in poverty reduction efforts.

Poverty Alleviation Through E-C ommerce

Alleviating poverty through developing e-commerce is a governmental initiative. It encourages third-party e-commerce businesses to build e-commerce service platforms so that impoverished farmers can sell their agricultural products online. In this way, the circulation of commodities will be accelerated. The impoverished population will be able to start businesses or get employed by virtue of the e-commerce platforms. The sales channel of quality specialty agricultural products in impoverished areas will be expanded. All these Internet-related factors mean poor people will be more empowered to shake off poverty.

Longnan City is one of the poorest areas in northwest China’s Gansu Province, perhaps in the whole country. The city produces abundant agricultural products of superior quality, but previously they failed to generate incomes for farmers because of inconvenient access to transportation and information. In early 2015, Longnan was approved as the first pilot area to alleviate poverty through e-commerce. In the following two years, the city promoted the integration of e-commerce and targeted poverty reduction efforts by facilitating the opening of online shops, the development of e-commerce businesses, and investment in the sector.

By the end of 2016, over 10,000 online shops had been opened in Longnan with sales of agricultural products totaling 6.4 billion yuan, creating 71,800 jobs for local people. A total of 980 online shops were opened in 750 impoverished villages where e-commerce poverty alleviation projects were piloted, helping 150,000 poor people increase their incomes.

To win the battle against poverty and use e-commerce to drive poverty alleviation efforts, China launched a demonstration campaign to promote e-commerce in rural areas in 2016. A total of 158 nationally recognized poor counties were designated as rural e-commerce pilot regions. All poor counties will be involved in the rural e-commerce campaign in three years.

Poverty Alleviation Th rough the Photovoltaic Industry

Establishing photovoltaic power stations in villages is a major approach to poverty alleviation through the photovoltaic industry. Built on idle land collectively owned by villagers, the power stations are generally small in size with an investment of 1-2 million yuan and a generating capacity of 100 to 300 kilowatts. The stations are collectively owned. Based on consultations among villagers, r evenues of the power stations can be used to support non-profit jobs to offer employment to poor households, promote village public welfare and subsidize poor residents with out any source of income or working ability.

Weiyuan County in Gansu Province conducted a photovoltaic project for poverty alleviation in 2016. The county’s first photovoltaic power station was established in Yuangudui Village in Tianjiahe Township with an investment of 2.4 million yuan in May 2016. With its generating capacity reaching 300 kilowatts, the station was put into operation on June 16 that year. By the end of December 2016, it had made a profit of 212,000 yuan after running for 198 days. The village received a share of 110,000 yuan.

Building photovoltaic power stations is a way of not only developing new energy, but also helping farmers increase incomes and shake off poverty. Currently, the National Development and Reform Commission, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development and the National Energy Administration have issued a plan to build photovoltaic projects with a generating capacity totaling 5.16 million kilowatts for the purpose of poverty reduction. In the future, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development and the National Energy Administration will select villages that are rich in sunshine and heat resources, have easy access to power grids, and are led by a capable village committee from impoverished villages across the nation to build photovoltaic power stations. They will also provide guidance on the operation and management of the stations as well as the distribution and use of revenues.

Poverty Alleviation T hrough Tourism

Laishui County in Hebei Province is home to rich tourism resources including Yesanpo, which is a UNESCO global geopark, a top-rated tourist destination and a national forest park. Over the past years, the county has utilized these advantages to develop tourism, help ing local people rise out of poverty. However, some of those living near scenic spots have not benefited from the development of tourism.

To help these people, the local government in Laishui County adopted tailored measures in 2016. The first step was to accurately classify the poor population. Thirty-three poor villages in the Yesanpo Scenic Area were classified into three groups--one core village, 18 surrounding villages and 14 related villages. People in the 33 villages were further classified into three groups--1,328 without working abilities, 835 who are capable of working but lack skills, and others who have both skills and the intention to start their own businesses.

After classifying the people and villages, the second step was implementing targeted policies. To help poor people without working abilities, the local government injected 10 million yuan in poverty alleviation funds into the Yesanpo Scenic Area. The company running the scenic area will give back 10 million yuan to the local government from its revenues annually as returns on the investment. The government can then use the money to subsidize the needy. To help poor people with working abilities, tourism cooperatives were set up in villages. Under its unified planning, the government sponsored the establishment of botanical gardens, eco-parking lots and tourist business streets in the villages with poverty alleviation funds and funds earmarked for the Beautiful Countryside Program, where villagers can be employed and have a monthly income of around 2,000 yuan. To help those who intend to return to their hometown to start businesses, the government introduced favorable policies to encourage them to engage in village tourism. To date, 159 people have come back home and started their own businesses, bringing opportunities for other local s to increase incomes at the same time. In 2016, more than 60 percent of the poor people in these 33 villages shook off poverty.

From 2016 to 2020, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development and the National Tourism Administration plan to support poverty alleviation efforts through developing countryside tourism in 22,600 poor villages across the nation. By tapping into the potential of scenic spots and entrepreneurial talent, the flourishing of tourism will deliver benefits to more people living in poverty.

Poverty Alleviation Workshops

Located in the riffle area of the Yellow River, Juancheng County in Heze City, Shandong Province, has 129 poor villages. The majority of young people in these villages go to work as migrant workers, leaving children, women and the elderly behind. It has been a tradition for local people to work in the handicraft industry such as making hair and wicker products and spinning thread. A few years ago, some businesses moved labor-intensive jobs to rural areas in order to lower costs. They set up work sheds and canvassed local people to work. Since 2015, the local government in Heze City has renovated the work sheds into poverty alleviation workshops. By the end of December 2016, 1,803 poverty alleviation workshops had been established, attracting 383 companies and directly and indirectly employing 191,341 local people. Of these, 57,685 people rose out of poverty, among which 49,724 were women, 519 were physically challenged, and 8,653 were people over 60 (including 69 over 80 years old).

The development of poverty alleviation workshops in Juancheng County is due to several factors: First, there is strong support from the local leadership and assistance from multiple sources. Juancheng County has managed to utilize idle houses, old schools or previous recreation centers and build one poverty alleviation workshop with an area of around 300 square meters in every village. This was done by providing financial support, requiring first secretaries of local committees of the CPC and government departments to assist, and encouraging major companies to donate. Second, explicit requirements have been put in place. At least 30 percent of jobs in the poverty alleviation workshops must be provided to poor people. The workshops should be located less than 200 meters from rural roads. They should be near public facilities like kindergartens, primary schools and clinics and implement flextime to allow workers time to care for their children and the elderly and do farm work. Third, favorable policies in terms of electricity, rents, employment and training subsidies and customized loan solutions from financial institut ion s were provided to businesses running the poverty alleviation workshops and employing a large number of poor villagers.

With the poverty alleviation workshops, people living under the poverty line get employed while taking care of children and the elderly. They also help businesses address difficulties in hiring workers and high labor costs. By building poverty alleviation workshops, Juancheng County has explored an innovative way of helping villagers shake off poverty by working near home. This helps poor people give up the mentality of depending on subsidies and boosts their confidence and morale to create a better future with their own hands. In addition, women left behind in villages by their migrant worker husbands become motivated to work instead of wasting their days playing Mahjong or card games. Another benefit is the poverty alleviation workshops have become an important platform for villagers to communicate, which helps society at large. Finally, labor and construction costs for some labor-intensive businesses are reduced, thus creating a mutually beneficial option of creating jobs for the poor and contributing to the long-term growth of the businesses.

Training Programs for Entrepr eneurs in Impoverished Villages

In October 2014, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, Fujian Province, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Gansu Province jointly launched a pilot training program for entrepreneurs in impoverished villages. Capable candidates willing to lead poor households to prosperity in Ningxia and Gansu were selected to take training courses in Rongzhong Village, Nan’an City, Fujian Province.

The one-year course was entrepreneurship-oriented and combined on-site learning and follow-up instruction to teach the candidates pragmatic skills for starting businesses.

Pragmatic on-site training

Contents of the one-month on-site training were pragmatic. First, the training ignited candidates’ entrepreneurial passion. The entrepreneurship education and lessons on the situation of poverty eradication helped emancipate candidates’ minds and alter their perspectives.

Second, it helped candidates decide on a specific business. Candidates were divided into different classes to learn specialized courses for the business they selected.

Third, it offered observational learning. Candidates were organized to visit cooperatives and small and micro businesses so that they could personally experience entrepreneurship in coastal regions. By learning the whole procedure of starting a business, they could gain a broader vision and become more inspired.

Fourth, it helped them make plans for a startup. Tutored by an instructor, candidates created their own business proposals.

Master-to-apprentice tutoring

The 11-month master-to-apprentice entrepreneurial tutoring was innovative. Politically trustworthy and experienced senior executives of small and medium-sized enterprises were invited to work as instructors. They signed agreements with candidates to offer help and took them on as apprentices to give follow-up instruction for at least 11 months.

Over the past three years, more than 500 senior executives have been engaged as instructors and trained 997 students in seven sessions. Some 50.6 percent of the candidates have successfully started their own businesses, each of which has involved five-10 poor households. The most successful business has benefited more than 100 poor households. A total of 2,000 registered poor households have participated in entrepreneurial initiatives thanks to this program.

The entrepreneurial endeavors initiated by the trainees have rekindled the desire for endogenous growth in underdeveloped villages, promoted local specialty industries and enhanced the“blood-making” ability of those living in poverty. In the future, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development will expand the program to train more entrepreneurs for the ongoing campaign to eradicate poverty.