Showing the way on poverty

China Daily, January 21, 2020
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African countries can take inspiration and practical know-how from China's success

I have worked in Madagascar for four years. Many local people are curious and ask me how China could lift 800 million people out of poverty in just a few decades. What is the secret of the poverty alleviation miracle?

In activities enhancing communication between China and Madagascar held by the Chinese embassy in Madagascar, Up and Out of Poverty is always welcomed by local people. The book is a compilation of Xi Jinping's major works while he worked in Ningde in East China's Fujian province, which includes ideas and methods for China's development. These Chinese experiences have achieved increasing recognition and emphasis in the global poverty eradication endeavor.

There has been a historic transformation of China, since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. It has grown into a flourishing country with better comprehensive strength. Industrialization has been realized in a few decades, which usually took several hundred years in developed countries.

Economic development has empowered Chinese people, increasing their sense of fulfillment and happiness. From 1949 to 2018, per capita income rose from nearly US$70 to US$9,470, and life expectancy has risen from 35 to 77. The education level has also been greatly lifted, from over 80 percent of the population being illiterate to 94.2 percent having completed the nine-year compulsory education in 2018.

Not only has China made the remarkable achievement of large-scale poverty reduction, it has also shaped the biggest middle-income group in the world, consisting of over 400 million people. Adhering to a people-oriented development concept, rapid development and massive poverty reduction on a large scale are taking place in China, and the fruits of reform and development are being shared by the poor.

China's experience of poverty alleviation tells the world that the path determines development, which should be designed according to local features and situation. Thanks to the strong leadership and institutional advantages of the Communist Party of China, and the hard-working Chinese people, China is successfully exploring a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics leading to outstanding results in poverty elimination.

China shares the common goal of getting rid of poverty with Madagascar and other African countries. China's achievements of fighting poverty can provide some encouragement and lessons for African countries including Madagascar.

Firm confidence serves as a prerequisite. As the largest developing country in the world, China's development was based on a weak foundation, but through tenacious efforts it has grown to be the second-largest economy in the world and successfully lifted the largest population in the world out of poverty. It is also the first developing country to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal.

Continental Africa embraces many developing countries with great potential for economic takeoff. The miracle in China definitely can be re-created in Africa as well.

A Madagascan friend told me that African countries should be confident seeing China's economic development because the per capita GDP of many African countries is no less than that of China before the launch of reform and opening-up in 1978. Aided by efficient exchanges with China, it is expected African countries can realize prosperous and powerful economies.

China and Madagascar should keep communication on development. As an old Chinese saying goes, teaching to fish is better than giving the fish. Madagascar is actively carrying out its national initiative for revitalization. China's experience during economic development and eradicating poverty can be helpful. For instance, Madagascar is giving great priority to development and the industrialization and modernization of agriculture. China always regards development as the fundamental approach to eliminate poverty, and sticks to reducing poverty through industrial development.

Madagascar is one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world. China is also experienced in getting rid of poverty by making full use of local ecological advantages. To develop the country, Madagascar needs more professional experts and equipment. China can provide both equipment and training. So far, China has invited thousands of Madagascans to participate in economic and technological cooperation and training programs.

China always attaches great importance to providing aid to Africa. In response to the poor infrastructure in Madagascar, the Chinese government built a highway in Madagascar in the 1980s, functioning as the economic lifeline connecting the capital Antananarivo and the largest economic city Toamasina. The Chinese workers made selfless contributions to overcome various difficulties; five of them lost their lives. In recent years, China aided the construction of roads to airport and “egg roads”. “Egg roads” can effectively settle the problems of transporting eggs from poultry areas, boosting the development of the local economies and people's livelihoods.

What is worth highlighting is that as the largest developing country in the world, China helping African countries is part of South-South Cooperation, revealing their true brotherhood.

2020 is a milestone year for China as it will see decisive victory in fighting against poverty and realization of the goal to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. While striving to shake off poverty, China will also actively promote global cooperation in this field, promoting mutual benefit for common development.

The author is China's ambassador to Madagascar. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.