SIEM REAP (Xinhua) – China’s best practices and successful experiences on poverty alleviation were shared with the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) during a two-day forum starting in Siem Reap yesterday.
Hong Tianyun, the deputy director of China’s State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation, said poverty reduction was a common goal for human development and a common challenge for China and Asean countries.
“Being the world’s largest developing country, China has always been an active advocate and powerful enabler of the world’s poverty reduction cause,” the Chinese official said during the opening ceremony of the 11th Asean-China Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction.
The forum brought together more than 120 government officials, experts, scholars, Chinese companies’ representatives, NGO representatives and international organisations’ officers from China and Asean countries.
At the forum, Mr Hong shared the Chinese five-point formula in achieving large-scale poverty reduction along with rapid economic growth.
Firstly, the prerequisite of China’s successful practise is upholding reform and opening-up so as to maintain a continuous growth of economy, he said.
Secondly, the guarantee is giving full play to the Communist Party of China’s leadership and socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Thirdly, governments provide guidance which combines long-term poverty reduction planning with annual poverty reduction objectives.
Fourth, the strategy of targeted poverty alleviation and reduction should be adjusted and implemented according to different conditions to maintain its effects.
And fifth, emphasis is given to the market to mobilise social involvement and synergy.
Mr Hong said in the future cause of poverty reduction, China will continue to carry out this formula and intensify its efforts in this regard so that more poverty-stricken regions and population can benefit from the country’s development. Meanwhile, China will continue to work with the international community and contribute to the cause of global poverty reduction.
According to a report on “New Progress in Poverty Alleviation in China” distributed at the forum, since the launch of reform and opening up in the late 1970s, more than 700 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty.
The number of rural poor in China had fallen to 43.35 million by the end of 2016, said the report released by the China’s State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.
China has set itself the goal of lifting 10 million people out of poverty every year from 2016 and is committed to lifting the entire impoverished population in rural areas out of poverty by 2020, the report said.
While combating poverty at home, China also actively helps other developing countries to address their poverty problems, it said, adding that over six decades, China has provided nearly 400 billion yuan ($59.2 billion) of assistance to 166 countries and international organisations, sent more than 600,000 aid workers, given medical assistance to 69 countries and aided more than 120 developing countries.
Ouk Rabun, Minister of Cambodia’s Ministry of Rural Development, said the forum was vital for the participants to discuss and exchange deeper views on their efforts in reducing poverty in Asean member countries.
“Through the 11th Asean-China Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction, I believe that we will gain good qualifications, best practices and new experiences from each other among Asean member countries and from China,” he said during his opening speech.
Wan Guanghua, the principal economist at the Asian Development Bank’s Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, called China’s poverty reduction strategy a “holistic approach” and said the forum was a good platform for Asean countries to learn best practices and experiences from China in poverty cut.
“From the statistics, China has been very successful in poverty reduction. At the end of 1970 or early 1980s, China’s poverty rate, based on World Bank’s estimate, was more than 70 percent, now it dropped to below five percent,” he said.
Mr Wan said with the economic growth of between six and seven percent per annum, China will be surely able to eradicate poverty by 2020.
“At the moment, the poverty rate in China is already low…China’s (economy) has been growing now six, seven percent (per annum), and if it continues to grow at this growth rate, China will have no problem to reduce poverty to below three percent, which is the natural rate of poverty,” he said.
Sita Sumrit, head of Poverty Eradication and Gender Division at the Asean Secretariat, praised China for its methods and achievements in poverty reduction, saying that Asean has a lot of things to learn from China in poverty cut.
“I think (China)’s targeted poverty reduction strategy has worked really well for the country. China has very good understanding of the context of the country about the poorest of the poor, and really has made an effort to understand who are the poorest, and really target to lift those people out of poverty,” she said.
Asean has a combined population of approximately 630 million. According to Sita Sumrit, it is estimated that one of eight people in Asean still live in poverty.
The people living below the poverty line are defined by an average income of less than $1.25 per day.
In a presentation to the forum, Professor Yu Miaojie, vice-dean of the National School of Development of Peking University, said a finding showed that the Asean-China Free Trade Area had a very significant impact on Asean and China in poverty reduction.
“If bilateral trade between China and an Asean member country increases by 10 percent, the absolute poverty ratio in the Asean member countries will reduce around 3-5 percent,” he said.