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SCIO briefing on the timely achievement of poverty alleviation goals,May 22, 2020 Adjust font size:


Liu Yongfu, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development


Hu Kaihong, spokesperson of the State Council Information Office


May 18, 2020

Hu Kaihong:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to the press conference held by the State Council Information Office. In 2020, China will finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and meet the targets of the 13th Five-Year Plan. This is also the year for the completion of China's poverty alleviation tasks. Today, we have invited Mr. Liu Yongfu, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. He will brief you on how we are securing the timely realization of China's poverty alleviation goals. He will also take your questions. Now, I give the floor to Mr. Liu.

Liu Yongfu:

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media, good afternoon. Welcome to today's press conference. I would like to thank all of you for your long-term concern and support for China's poverty relief work.

This year, China will finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and meet the targets of the 13th Five-Year Plan. This is also the year for the completion of China's efforts in poverty alleviation. The Central Economic Work Conference held at the end of last year set out an overall plan for this year's work. The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has had a major impact on China's economic and social development, and posed new difficulties and challenges for poverty alleviation. The outbreak made it hard for poor laborers to go outside of their hometowns to seek jobs and for village-based officials to promote poverty alleviation. It impaired the business production and operation of impoverished households, and delayed the commencement of projects focused on poverty alleviation as well as the work and production resumption of such key businesses and workshops. At a symposium on March 6 dedicated to securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation, General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that lifting all rural residents living below the current poverty line out of poverty by 2020 is a solemn promise made by the CPC Central Committee, and it must be fulfilled on time. The CPC Central Committee has coordinated pandemic prevention and control with economic and social development, making plans and policies to eliminate poverty - a critical task that must be completed this year. Per important instructions given by General Secretary Xi Jinping and plans made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, all regions and government departments at all levels, especially those responsible for poverty alleviation, have risen to challenges and worked tirelessly to promote poverty alleviation.

With concerted efforts on all sides, positive progress has been achieved in poverty alleviation despite the impact of COVID-19. As of April 30, all officials assigned to work in poverty-stricken villages had reported for duty. Under the supervision of relevant authorities, a time limit had been set to promote poverty relief work in an orderly manner. The number of impoverished people going outside of their hometowns to seek jobs had reached 95.4% of last year's total. In central and western regions, 3.43 million poor laborers had taken rural public welfare posts. Additionally, 97.5% of leading companies and 97% of workshops dedicated to poverty relief had resumed work, and 82% of poverty alleviation projects had started construction. Sales of products contributing to poverty alleviation had reached 32.3 billion yuan. Funds and human resources allocated for coordinating poverty reduction efforts between eastern and western regions had been put in place, with both figures surpassing target goals. On the whole, the pandemic will not change the general course of poverty elimination, with its impact gradually being overcome. The goals and tasks involved in defeating poverty will remain unchanged, and we will never leave any loose ends, no matter the impact of the pandemic. The current poverty alleviation standard will remain unchanged and without any drop or increase. The timetable for eliminating poverty will also remain unchanged.

Next, we will take the following measures:

First, we will set a time limit on poverty relief work in designated areas and intensify supervision there. We will continue to oversee the poverty relief work in 52 poor counties and 1,113 villages where there are large impoverished populations and it is difficult to shake off poverty. We will urge the seven provincial-level regions that are involved to act on implementation plans, and we will encourage all counties and villages to implement their specific plans. We will focus on ensuring access to compulsory education, basic medical services, safe housing and drinking water for the poor, as well as providing follow-up assistance for residents who have been relocated from inhospitable areas. We will mobilize private enterprises and social organizations to aid poverty relief in designated villages. All of these efforts aim to ensure the timely achievement of all remaining poverty alleviation goals.

Second, we will strengthen poverty alleviation through employment. The number of migrant laborers in poverty in the country this year will exceed 28 million. The total number of migrant laborers in poverty from the central and western regions absorbed by the eastern regions this year will be on par with last year. The total number of poor migrant laborers from the central and western regions this year will be not less than last year. For enterprises to resume work, production and project constructions, the first priority will be arranging for laborers in poverty to work. And enterprises must continue to implement effective point-to-point connections, especially by generating employment for the laborers from the counties listed as impoverished. We will also strive to stabilize available jobs for poor migrant laborers who have gone out of town to work, and we will facilitate work for poor laborers who are willing to travel to work. We will support leading poverty alleviation enterprises and poverty alleviation workshops in the resumption of work and production, make good use of poverty alleviation public welfare posts, mobilize and organize the poor laborers, marginalized individuals, etc., to participate in the construction of projects that offer jobs as relief and, lastly, we will promote employment locally and in nearby regions.

Third, we will strengthen poverty alleviation by consumption. Poverty alleviation by consumption is an important measure to overcome the impact of the pandemic and boost the development of poverty alleviation industries, which should be combined with the "vegetable basket (non-staple food supply)" and "rice bag (grain supply)" programs in the eastern region and cities. The central and western regions should do their best in the production and identification of poverty alleviation products, while eastern regions should increase the sales of such products and solve the problem of poverty alleviation product sales through various methods, including purchases made by budget units, the establishment of a trading market and social participation in sales.

Fourth, we will bolster assessment and aids. We will enhance the assessment of households that are unstable during progress toward poverty alleviation - along with those that are vulnerable to or on the brink of poverty and those whose income has sharply decreased or whose expenditure has suddenly increased due to the pandemic or other reasons - and enact targeted assistance measures for them in advance. We will support the population segments that are on the brink of poverty but have the ability to work via various poverty alleviation policies, such as small-sum poverty alleviation loans with interest subsidies, skill training and poverty alleviation public welfare working posts. For the impoverished people who are unable to work, we will reinforce comprehensive supporting measures, such as minimum living support, medical insurance, and old-age insurance. 

We believe that with the strong leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the CPC Central Committee, together with the joint efforts of the whole Party, country and all of society, and with the solid foundation laid by previous poverty alleviation efforts over the years, we have the confidence, conditions and abilities to win the battle against poverty on schedule!

Next, I am happy to answer your questions.

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you, Mr. Liu. Please ask your questions. Before you do, let us know the news organization you represent.


We know that the central government has set a time limit to promote poverty relief work in the remaining 52 counties and 1,113 villages this year. The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development has also deployed and arranged this work in 2020. May I ask, Mr. Liu, what is the current progress and actual result of speeding up efforts in lifting poor counties and villages out of poverty? Thank you.

Liu Yongfu:

Thank you. There were 832 poverty-stricken counties in our country. As of April 15, 780 counties have announced that they have been lifted out of poverty. Fifteen out of 22 provinces in the middle and western parts of China have no more poverty-stricken counties, while there are 52 poor counties left in the remaining seven provinces. At the same time, we had 128,000 impoverished villages. At the end of last year, there were 2,707 poor villages. Among these 2,707 impoverished villages, there were 1,113 villages each with more than 1,000 poor people and a poverty incidence rate of more than 10%. A time limit had been set to promote poverty relief work in the 52 counties and 1,113 villages. The plan to urge these efforts onward was issued by the central government at the beginning of the Chinese lunar new year, and we printed and distributed it on the third day of the lunar new year. So far, seven provinces have formulated implementation plans. All counties and villages have also formulated operational plans that detail aspects from what the problems are that must be solved to how to solve them, when to finish them and who will do it - a series of measures that are very practical and specific. In addition, the central and provincial governments have increased investment in these listed counties, and they have invested 30.8 billion yuan in these 52 impoverished counties. Each province has also given preferential poverty relief funding to the more than 1,000 villages.

There has also been an increase in the force of help and support, as we can see that there are fewer and fewer poverty-stricken counties and fewer and fewer impoverished villages. Some counties that have been removed from the poverty list have transferred their forces to these places to provide aid. On April 8 of this year, when some of China's private enterprises knew that there were still more than 1,000 villages being listed as impoverished, 31 companies proposed that each Chinese enterprise could help one poor village. After the proposal was sent out, there was a wide response from private enterprises and social organizations. There are now 833 private enterprises and 228 social organizations that have signed up to participate, and the two sides are negotiating how to cooperate, which has also strengthened efforts. 

The focused acceleration of poverty alleviation efforts has already had some effects. For example, the number of poor laborers from listed counties who left their hometowns to work has reached 102% of last year's total, which is seven percentage points higher than the national number. In the process of exporting laborers, our country established a point-to-point system. Throughout the pandemic, the listed counties have 105,000 people travelling to work. For example, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has relatively more poverty relief work. There are more than 300 villages in Xinjiang, as there are more than 300 villages in Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture, Sichuan province. In those 300 villages of Xinjiang, all the cadres who came to aid did not return to their hometowns during this year's Spring Festival and instead stayed in the villages to perform poverty alleviation work, helping to ensure that the tasks can be completed this year. Thus, overall progress has been smooth. Thank you.


Affected by the epidemic and economic downturn, will those who have been lifted out of poverty fall into poverty again? This has already happened this year. What do you think of this risk? Thank you.

Liu Yongfu:

As I just mentioned, due to the impact of the epidemic, migrant workers in poverty were stuck in their hometown. In previous years, after the 15th day of the first lunar month, poor people would go out to work, but this year, their work time has been postponed. By the end of February, the number of poor people who left for work only accounted for 40% of last year's total. After two months of efforts in March and April, the ratio rose to 95%, basically reaching the same level as last year. However, the income lost over the past two months cannot be compensated. In addition, the production is damaged. Farmers who resumed production and prepared for spring plowing were faced with the shortage of production supplies. Now that we have addressed the issue, it can be said that throughout the country, the spring plowing among the poor is basically unaffected. What we need to prevent is a backlog of produce. Will it push people into poverty or make people return to poverty? We found that only a small number of people fell into poverty again. The reason is not entirely due to the epidemic; some of them were influenced by disasters and diseases. According to data, this year, the number of people who are prone to return to poverty and those who live on the edge of poverty has increased by 380,000. They have been included in the monitoring and assistance system along with millions of people who had been registered last year. Even if there was no COVID-19, there would still be people returning to poverty, and those on the edge of poverty would become poor. The epidemic becomes a driver for the increase of that number. For example, by the end of last year, 150,000 rural poor people had not met the goal of "free from worries over food and clothing and having access to compulsory education, basic medical services, and safe housing." This year, the number has increased to 340,000. Now, 250,000 people have achieved the goal, and there are still 90,000 people left across the country. We are clear of the number of people who are prone to return to poverty and those who are on the edge of poverty and their situation. Therefore, we will take measures accordingly. For example, if there is a reduction in the number of people leaving home for work, we will create jobs locally. We can make up for not being able to leave home for work by creating opportunities locally for them. The epidemic did exert influence, but we can take measures to counter the fallout. Thank you.

Farmers' Daily:

Concerning the epidemic's impact on the production and sales of products in impoverished areas, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development and relevant government bodies have made deployments and arrangements specifically to boost consumption as a way of poverty alleviation. What are these specific measures? How well do these measures work?

Liu Yongfu:

Over the years, some local industries have been developed to help poverty alleviation, such as the production of apples, walnuts, and Chinese dates, which have come onto the market this year. Of course, there will be products associated with poverty alleviation every season, and these products must be sold. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of works have been carried out under the joint efforts among the National Development and Reform Commission, the All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Cooperatives, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, as well as other government bodies concerning e-commerce and consumption to help poverty alleviation.

First, we have carried out the verification work of poverty alleviation products in Western China. What are poverty alleviation products? They refer to the products produced either by impoverished people, villages, and relevant cooperatives or by leading enterprises that help poverty alleviation. In short, poverty alleviation products are those which are associated with impoverished people and can also help lift people out of poverty. We've put effort into carrying out this verification. The verification is not a one-time thing. It will be constantly carried out all year round. So far, over 40,000 products have been verified, and the total value reached 390 billion yuan. We will continue to carry out the verification work in the future. As of now, the sales of these products reached 32.3 billion yuan.

As we all know, Hubei province is the worst-hit region of the epidemic this year. Our support for Hubei started in March with the improvement of the epidemic situation. Seven provinces in East China helped impoverished workers in Hubei go out for jobs. We've also helped Hubei sell its poverty alleviation products. According to the statistics from Hubei, the sales of well-known poverty alleviation products, such as crayfish, tea, and mushrooms, reached nearly 3 billion yuan. The working committee of the central and state organs has called on all units of the central and state organs to purchase the products overstocked in Hubei province. From mid-March, in less than two months, 99 government bodies have bought 186 million yuan of products. Each of them made a purchase of 1.87 million yuan on average. Therefore, first, we need to carry out verification of the poverty alleviation products. Second, we need to take various measures to consume these products.

Next, there are still several models regarding our work, such as government procurement and market trading. We can also encourage e-commerce companies to sell these products. Some social organizations are also working on public welfare projects in this field. In short, we will come up with various measures to help sell these high-quality products produced by impoverished people in impoverished areas.

The work in this field should be connected with the "rice bag" (i.e., grain supply) and "vegetable basket" (i.e., non-staple food supply) projects in cities of East China. These products from impoverished areas are of high quality, and sometimes people may find it difficult to buy these products. We need to step up our organizing efforts. Impoverished people are the producer, while people living in East China are the consumer. Thus, the sale and purchase of goods are not a burden, but a perfect match between them. We will continue our works in the next step. Of course, the quality must be ensured, and the price must stay reasonable. It is necessary to prevent seeking personal gain in the name of helping poverty alleviation. We've got a head start. Thank you.

Hong Kong Commercial Daily:

Since the beginning of this year, unemployment has reached relatively high levels as the number of job vacancies has been decreasing, and the manufacturing and catering industries - the two major employers of migrant labor - are still recovering. Therefore, my question is: What multipronged efforts are being taken to help migrant workers get employed? And, how are the funds designated for poverty alleviation being pooled?

Liu Yongfu:

I'll start by addressing the question about funding. The funds provided by the central government for poverty alleviation this year have increased 15.8%. Meanwhile, regions are required to increase rather than reduce their financing for the program, which can also receive support from the central government when necessary. In fact, we have pooled substantial funds that consist of agricultural funds, financial funds and aggregated social funds, in addition to the designated funds. When combined, these can remove the obstacles that impede the poverty alleviation work. Although it is true that there is never enough money, we still can evaluate the outcome using general standards. That is the situation with regards to funds.

Second, I will respond to your concern about employment. It is a fact that under the impact of the global pandemic and downward economic pressure, enterprises have received fewer purchase orders, which in turn has strained the operations of manufacturers and business entities. As a result, the unemployment rate has risen, with job markets around the world being affected - in this, China is no exception. However, whilst trying to avoid volatility in general, we have focused on the employment of migrant workers from poverty-stricken regions. With the goal of strengthening poverty alleviation through employment that I mentioned in the introduction , we have prioritized the impoverished labor force in the resumption of work and production. For instance, the number of rural workers on the move through chartered transportation since the outbreak of the pandemic, particularly across provinces, has reached 6.02 million. Of these, 1.52 million have been impoverished migrant workers, accounting for 25.2%, or over one quarter of the entire flow. You are aware that impoverished people accounted for 10.2% of the rural population as of 2012, however, now the exported labor force moving through "point-to-point" chartered transportation has reached 25.2%. This percentage shows the efforts of different localities in focusing on mobilizing impoverished populations.

Our efforts also focus on intra-provincial employment. Take the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for example. As a result of constant labor force demands from the northern and eastern parts of the region, more than 50,000 impoverished people from the south have been provided with job opportunities in these two areas. In addition, newly launched enterprises, poverty-alleviation workshops and leading enterprises have also provided jobs to the local labor force. So far, the autonomous region has created more than 3 million poverty-alleviation charitable posts, including, more than 1 million forest rangers, 850,000 photovoltaic workers - whose number is expected to reach 1 million by the first half of this year - and 250,000 road maintenance staff.

We have been overseeing these three efforts, namely, migrant labor force, charitable posts and localized employment. China has 290 million rural migrant workers, among which, about 26 million impoverished laborers have been mobilized. However, the rest, estimated at around 2.01 million, are still awaiting relocated job opportunities that have yet to be realized. The situation requires us to secure employment for these 26 million migrant workers before creating opportunities for the remaining approximately 2 million. Among the 290 million migrant workers, around 9% are classed as impoverished. These people will be given priority for employment with our preferential policies and solutions provided for employment issues. However, this does not mean that we will give every job opportunity to those classed as impoverished. But they will be given priority in the labor force market. Thank you.

Insight China:

Mr. Liu, what preferential policies and specific measures are the central government taking to help disadvantaged groups and poverty-stricken areas in Hubei province? Thank you.

Liu Yongfu:

Regarding supporting Hubei, the region hit hardest since the outbreak of COVID-19, General Secretary Xi Jinping visited the province to call for concerted efforts, not just within Hubei, but also in Eastern China and the central government bodies which are both supposed to help Hubei revive in terms of economic and social development in a timely fashion. In accordance with the instructions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, a full range of policies targeting economic recovery and poverty alleviation have been carried out headed by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). In addition, the province will enjoy preferential policies in terms of designated poverty-alleviation funds distributed by central finance.

The Ministry of Human Resources and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development have initiated a labor force cooperation program entitled "Seven Plus One" between Hubei and seven eastern provinces with high numbers of impoverished migrant workers. In addition to poverty relief through consumption which has facilitated sales of commodities in poverty-stricken areas, financing and labor force coordination have also propped up the economy on the basis of the multipronged poverty alleviation scheme. The impoverished local labor force that has left home for work has approached to 90% of the same period last year. I predict that it will have reached the same level as last year by the end of this month and losses are likely to be restricted to the previous three months, from February to April. Thank you.

Hu Kaihong:

That concludes today's press conference. Thank you, Mr. Liu and thank you all.

Translated and edited by Wang Yiming, Fan Junmei, Zhu Bochen, Li Huiru, Zhang Rui, Wang Yanfang, Huang Shan, Wu Jin, Wang Wei, Zhang Liying, David Ball, Laura Zheng, Scott Rainen. In case of any dispute over a discrepancy, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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