|The Development-oriented Poverty Reduction Program for Rural China|
I.The Course and Achievements of the Aid-the-Poor Program
I.Policy Guarantee for the Aid-the-Poor Program
III.Major Contents and Channels of the Aid-the-Poor Program
IV.The Aid-the-Poor Program for the Special Groups Among the Impoverished
V.The Aid-the-Rural-Poor Program in the Early Period of the 21st Century
China is the largest developing country in the world, its population making up about 22 percent of the earth's total. For quite a long time in the past, China was bedeviled by poverty, for various reasons.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, and especially since the end of the 1970s, when China introduced the policy of reform and opening to the outside world, the Chinese Government, while devoting considerable efforts to all-round economic and social development, has implemented nationwide a large-scale program for development-oriented poverty relief in a planned and organized way. With the main objective of helping poverty-stricken people to solve the problem of food and clothing, this program has gone a long way toward alleviating poverty. Between 1978 and 2000, the number of poverty-stricken people without enough to eat and wear in the rural areas decreased from 250 million to 30 million, and the proportion of poverty-stricken people in the total rural population dropped from 30.7 percent to about three percent. The strategic objective set by the Chinese Government for enabling all poverty-stricken people in rural areas to have enough to eat and wear by the end of the 20th century has basically been realized.
The following is an introduction to China's development-oriented poverty relief for the rural areas:
Since the founding of New China, the Chinese Government has spared no effort to develop production and eliminate poverty. However, in the strict sense, the help-the-poor program was put forward and implemented on a large scale only after the initiation of the reform and opening-up. From 1978 to 2000, this program largely underwent the following three stages:
The First Stage: Structural Reform Promotes Poverty Relief (1978-1985)
In 1978, the poverty-stricken population numbered 250 million, making up 30.7 percent of the total rural population, according to the poverty standard designated by the Chinese Government. There were many causes giving rise to such a large number of poverty-stricken people, of which the main one was that the operation system in agriculture did not suit the needs of the development of the productive forces, so that peasants lacked the enthusiasm for production. In this way, reform of the system became the main way to alleviate poverty.
The reform that China started in 1978 was, first and foremost, a reform of the land management system, i.e., replacing the collective management system of the people's commune with the household contract responsibility system. This change of the land system kindled the peasants' real enthusiasm for labor, thus greatly liberating the productive forces and improving the land output. Meanwhile, many other reforms, such as gradually relaxing control over the prices of agricultural products and devoting major efforts to developing township enterprises, opened new ways for solving the problem of poverty in the rural areas. These reforms accelerated the development of the national economy, and conveyed benefits on the poverty-stricken people in three ways-raising the prices of agricultural products, transforming the agricultural production structure and orienting it toward higher added value, and employing rural laborers in non-agricultural sectors, thus enabling impoverished people to shake off poverty and become well-off and greatly alleviating poverty in the rural areas.
According to statistics, from 1978 to 1985 grain output per capita increased by 14 percent in the countryside, cotton by 73.9 percent, oil-bearing crops by 176.4 percent, and meat by 87.8 percent; the net income per peasant grew by 3.6 times; the number of poverty-stricken people with problems feeding and clothing themselves decreased from 250 million to 125 million, to shrink to 14.8 percent of the total population in the rural areas; and the number of poverty-stricken people went down by 17.86 million annually on average.
The Second Stage: Large-scale Development-oriented Poverty Relief Drive (1986-1993)
In the mid-1980s, the economy of the overwhelming majority of the rural areas in China, stimulated by the policy of reform and opening-up and relying on their own advantages, grew by leaps and bounds, but a small number of areas still lagged behind somewhat because of economic, social, historical, natural and geographical conditions. The disparity-economic, social and cultural-between the poverty-stricken areas and other areas, especially that between the poverty-stricken areas and the coastal advanced areas in the east, gradually widened. The uneven development in the Chinese countryside became marked. Quite a number of low-income people could not meet their basic needs for subsistence.
To further strengthen poverty relief, the Chinese Government has adopted a series of important measures since 1986, such as setting up special help-the-poor work units, allocating special funds, formulating special favorable policies, thoroughly reforming the traditional relief-type approach, and putting forward the development-oriented poverty reduction policy. Since then, the Chinese Government has set in motion a nationwide development-oriented poverty reduction drive in a big and planned way, and China's help-the-poor work has entered a new historical period. Thanks to the efforts made over the past eight years, the net income per peasant in the poverty-stricken counties to which the Chinese Government had attached special importance increased from 206 yuan in 1986 to 483.7 yuan in 1993; the number of the rural poor dropped from 125 million to 80 million, with an annual decrease of 6.4 million on average, and an average annual decrease rate of 6.2 percent; and the proportion of poverty-stricken people in the total rural population went down from 14.8 percent to 8.7 percent.
The Third Stage: Tackling Key Problems of Poverty Relief (1994-2000)
Along with the deepening of the rural reform and the constant strengthening of development-oriented poverty relief, the number of the poverty-stricken people has shrunk year by year; great changes have taken place in the features of poverty; and the distribution of the poverty-stricken population shows obvious geographical characteristics, i.e. most poverty-stricken people live in central and western China, in the barren rocky mountain area of southwest China, the arid Loess Plateau in northwest China and the impoverished Qinling and Daba mountain areas (which suffer from rugged terrain, a shortage of arable land, poor transportation conditions and serious soil erosion), and the frigid Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The main factors behind poverty are adverse natural conditions, weak infrastructure and backward social development.
Marked by the promulgation and implementation of the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program (a program designed to lift 80 million people out of absolute poverty in the period of seven years from 1994 to 2000) in March 1994, China's development-oriented poverty-relief work entered the stage of tackling the key problems. The Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program clearly stipulated that China should concentrate human, material and financial resources, mobilize the forces of all walks of life in society and work hard to basically solve the problem of food and clothing of the rural needy by the end of 2000. It was the first action program for development-oriented poverty reduction with clear and definite objectives, targets, measures and a time limit.
For three years running (1997-1999), China solved the problem of food and clothing for eight million people a year-a record high in the 1990s. By the end of 2000, the basic objectives of the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program had been realized by and large.
Thanks to the arduous and unremitting efforts in the past more than two decades, China has made tremendous achievements in its drive to assist with the development of the poor areas.
-The problem of food and clothing for more than 200 million rural poor has been solved. The number of poverty-stricken people in rural areas with problems obtaining sufficient food and clothing decreased from 250 million in 1978 to 30 million in 2000; and the impoverishment rate there decreased from 30.7 percent to about three percent. Of this, the number of poverty-stricken people in the impoverished counties to which the Chinese Government gave priority in its poverty alleviation efforts decreased from 58.58 million in 1994 to 17.1 million in 2000, involving mainly the destitute people living in areas with adverse natural conditions, a small number of people receiving social security assistance and some handicapped people.
-Production and living conditions have remarkably improved. During the 15 years from 1986 to 2000, 99.15 million mu (one mu = 1/15 ha) of basic farmland was constructed in poverty-stricken rural areas, and the problem of drinking water for more than 77.25 million people and more than 83.98 million draught animals were solved. By the end of 2000, 95.5 percent of the administrative villages in the poverty-stricken areas had electricity, 89 percent were accessible by road, 69 percent had postal service, and 67.7 percent could be reached by telephone.
-Economic development has been speeded up remarkably. During the implementation of the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program, the agricultural added value of the poverty-stricken counties to which the Chinese Government gave priority in poverty alleviation went up by 54 percent, with an average annual growth rate of 7.5 percent; their industrial added value grew by 99.3 percent, with an average annual growth rate of 12.2 percent; their local financial revenue almost doubled, with an average annual growth rate of 12.9 percent; grain output rose by 12.3 percent, with an average annual growth rate of 1.9 percent; and the net income per peasant increased from 648 yuan to 1,337 yuan, with an average annual growth rate of 12.8 percent.
-Social undertakings have developed quickly. The hitherto-rapid population growth in the poverty-stricken areas has been on the whole put under control, and the population's natural growth rate has decreased. The conditions for running schools have improved, and remarkable progress has been made in the work for basically popularizing nine-year compulsory education and that for basically eliminating illiteracy among the young and middle-aged. Of the 592 poverty-stricken counties to which the state gives priority in poverty relief, 318 have attained the aforementioned two objectives. Both vocational and adult education has progressed at seven-league strides, thus effectively improving the quality of workers. The town and township hospitals in most of the poor areas have been revamped or rebuilt. As a result, the shortage of doctors and medicines has been alleviated. A large number of practical agrotechniques have been popularized, and the level of scientific farming has improved remarkably. Ninety-five percent of administrative villages in poor areas can receive radio and TV programs; the cultural life of the people in these areas has improved; and their mental outlook has changed tremendously.
-Some poverty-stricken areas which lie in vast, contiguous stretches have solved the problem of food and clothing as have the Yimeng, Jinggang and Dabie mountain areas, southwest Fujian and other old revolutionary base areas. Great changes have taken place in some remote mountain areas and areas inhabited by ethnic minority people. Dingxi Prefecture in Gansu Province and Xihaigu Prefecture in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, once known as the "poorest places on earth," have vastly improved their infrastructure facilities and basic production conditions after many years of effort, and their poverty-stricken state has been greatly alleviated.
The poverty of China's rural areas is a problem that arose over long years in the past. Impoverished regions in China are characterized mainly by a large area and population sunk in poverty. Based on its understanding of the basic national conditions, especially the reality of the poverty-stricken areas and people, the Chinese Government has formulated a policy for development-oriented poverty alleviation that conforms to the reality in China. It sets mainly solving the problem of food and clothing of the rural poor as its basic objective and central task in this regard, starting from the most urgent problems, acting according to its capability, giving priority to key areas, and advancing step by step.
Defining the Standard of Poverty in Conformity with the National Conditions
China is a developing country with a large population, a meager heritage and an underdeveloped economy, especially in the rural areas. In terms of the poverty-stricken areas in China, the underdevelopment is mainly reflected in the following: First, weak infrastructure. In the western region, where most of these areas are located, although the territory is over two-thirds of the nation's total, the proportions of railways, highways and civil aviation facilities are relatively low. Second, a rapidly growing population, and the low level of education, public health and other basic social services. In contrast to the backward economy, the poverty-stricken areas are usually noted for their rapidly growing populations. Due to the poor conditions for running schools and backward education facilities, a great number of school-age children are unable to go to school or obliged to discontinue their studies, and the illiteracy rate of the young and middle-aged is high. These areas are also characterized by a very low level of health care work. Third, poor agricultural production conditions, low revenue, and seriously inadequate public input. In 1986, the per-capita motive power of agricultural machinery in the counties on the state's priority poverty relief list accounted for only 50 percent of the national average. In 1993, the per-capita revenue in these counties was 60 yuan, only about 30 percent of the national average.
In accordance with the above-mentioned actual conditions, it is necessary to fix a realistic standard of poverty for China's help-the-poor work. The earliest standard was calculated by the relevant government departments in 1986, on the basis of the investigations of the consumption expenditures of 67,000 rural households, i.e., the standard of 206 yuan in per-capita net income in rural areas in 1985. It was equivalent to 300 yuan in 1990 and 625 yuan in 2000.
China's standard of poverty is the standard of the lowest expense to maintain one's basic subsistence. It can guarantee the basic living needs of the rural poor in China and, therefore, is an objective standard and also one that conforms to the reality in China.
Defining the Key Poverty-stricken Counties to Be Aided by the State
To use poverty relief funds in a unified way, and effectively aid the poor and needy, the Chinese Government has formulated the standard of the key poverty-stricken counties to be aided by the state, and identified a number of such counties.
The Chinese Government defined the standard of the key poverty-stricken counties to be aided for the first time in 1986: the counties with a net yearly income of less than 150 yuan per peasant in 1985. Subsequently, the standard had been readjusted in keeping with the economic development, especially the constant improvement of the economic conditions of the poverty-stricken areas. The readjusted standard in 1994 was less than 400 yuan in per-capita net income in 1992. So all those counties originally on the priority list where the per-capita net income had exceeded 700 yuan in 1992 were taken off the list. (According to a typical calculation at the time, the problem of food and clothing of over 90 percent of the poverty-stricken people in the counties with the per-capita net income of more than 700 yuan had been basically solved.) According to this standard, 592 counties in 27 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government were listed as the key poverty-stricken counties to be aided in the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program, covering over 72 percent of the rural poor across the country. The series of policies and measures for development-oriented poverty relief work adopted by the Central Government in subsequent years were mainly centered on solving the problem of food and clothing of the people in the counties on the state priority list.
The state has driven forward the solution of poverty in the rural poverty-stricken areas across the country through concentrated and effective aid to the impoverished counties. The state has explicitly demanded that all aid-the-poor funds must be used in the poverty-stricken counties. In 1996, the Central Government further set the minimum proportion of supportive poverty relief funds (30-50 percent) for the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities to guarantee the local supportive funds to be used in the key counties.
Putting the Stress on the Poverty-stricken Areas in the Central and Western Regions
It is an important strategic measure to favor the central and western regions in China's development-oriented assistance to the poverty-stricken. The regional features of China's economic development are very outstanding. The eastern coastal areas take the lead in economic development, taking full advantage of their own strengths. But the central and western regions are relatively backward. Therefore, China's rural poor are mostly concentrated in the central and western regions, especially in the western region, living in scattered areas in deserts, hills, mountains and plateaus. These regions are characterized by the largest number of poor people, and the deepest degree and most complicated structure of poverty. Of the 592 poverty-stricken counties named by the Chinese Government on its priority poverty relief list in 1994, 82 percent are situated in the central and western regions.
The Chinese Government started to readjust the regional structure of the allocation of the state poverty relief funds in 1994: adjusting the relief credit funds of the Central Government in the coastal economically developed provinces to favor the worst provinces and autonomous regions in the central and western regions, and earmarking the new relief funds from the central budget only for poor areas in those provinces and regions. Keeping the overall situation in mind, the state has formulated preferential policies to actively promote a horizontal union between the eastern and western regions, and the aid-the-poor cooperation between similar departments of different institutions.
Over the past year, China has started to carry out the strategy of large-scale development of the western region to accelerate its development and narrow the gap in development between regions. The state has arranged preferential construction projects of infrastructural facilities, ecological environment and resource development in the western region, steadily increasing its investments and its financial transfer payments to the western region. All these have contributed a great deal to promoting the development of the western region and the solution of the food and clothing problem of the poverty-stricken there.
Increasing Capital Input for Poverty Reduction
Over the past 20 years, with the augmentation of the state financial resources, the special aid-the-poor funds arranged by the Chinese Government have constantly increased. In 2000, such funds totaled 24.8 billion yuan, or 31 times as much as in 1980. The accumulative total of such funds have reached over 168 billion yuan, of which more than 80 billion yuan was from financial funds (including over 39 billion yuan of work-relief funds), and 88 billion yuan from credit funds. Local governments have also increased the aid-the-poor funds according to the proportion of supportive funds set by the Central Government (30-50 percent since 1996).
The special aid-the-poor funds of the Chinese Government mainly include two categories: financial and credit funds. The former includes funds to support the development of the underdeveloped areas, the new financial aid-the-poor funds, and work-relief funds. To tighten the control of the aid-the-poor funds and improve their utilization benefits, the State Council formulated the unified Measures on the Management of the State Poverty Relief Funds in 1997, explicitly providing for the objects and conditions of the aid, with special emphasis on the requirement that these funds should be used complementarily according to the overall objectives and requirements of the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program, so as to form a concerted effort enabling the funds to generate overall benefits. The aid-the-poor funds from various channels should be mainly put into the following fields: The financial funds are to be mainly used in the construction of basic farmland, small irrigation works and country roads, providing drinking water for people and livestock, technical training and the popularization of practical agrotechniques; the credit funds are to be used in assisting the poverty-stricken households in crop cultivation and aquiculture and poultry raising projects to increase their incomes of the same year. At the same time, the special relief departments at all levels are required to strengthen the inspection and supervision of the management and use of the funds. Auditing departments are required to strictly audit the use of the funds and promptly deal with and problem once found. These measures have played a key role in improving the utilization benefits of the aid-the-poor funds and in realizing the objective of basically solving the problem of food and clothing of the poor according to the required schedule.
Formulating Preferential Policies to Support the Development of the Poverty-stricken Areas and Peasant Households
China's preferential policies for the development-oriented assistance to the poverty-stricken cover two aspects-helping the poor households to solve the problem of food and clothing, and supporting the economic development of the poor areas.
The preferential policies for helping the development of the poverty-stricken peasant households include: Waiving the mandatory state grain procurement quotas of households whose problem of food and clothing has not been solved; appropriately prolonging the utilization time limit of aid-the-poor loans and softening the terms of mortgage and guarantee, according to the actual situation; and reducing or remitting agricultural taxes and taxes on special farm produce according to the relevant provisions of the regulations on agricultural taxation.
The preferential policies to support the economic development of the poverty-stricken areas include: Gradually strengthening the financial transfer payments to poverty-stricken areas by the Central Government, and establishing a secondary transfer payment system by the relevant provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities to offer financial support to those areas; remitting income tax for three years for new enterprises in the poverty-stricken counties and enterprises established there by people from the developed areas; and, according to the principle of "he who benefits bears the expense," duly raising the standards of the construction and maintenance funds in the reservoir regions and earmarking these funds specially for solving the problem of food and clothing of the reservoir regions' relocated people.
Carrying Out the Responsibility System for Poverty Relief Work
To effectively implement the development-oriented aid-the-poor work, the Chinese Government established a Leading Group of the State Council for the Economic Development of Poverty-stricken Areas in June 1986 (renamed Leading Group of the State Council for Development-oriented Poverty Relief in 1993), to be responsible for the organization, direction, coordination, supervision and examination of the work in this regard. The governments of some provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities, prefectures (cities) and counties have also established corresponding organizations in charge of the local poverty reduction drive.
China practices the level-by-level responsibility system, with the provincial authority as the main player, in its administrative leadership of the poverty reduction work. The provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, especially provinces and autonomous regions with large numbers of poverty-stricken areas, have put development-oriented poverty relief high on their agendas, and formulated concrete local implementation plans in line with the state's poverty relief program. The principal leaders of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities are required to personally supervise the work and assume overall responsibility. The Central Government issues the relief funds in one lump sum to the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities at the beginning of every year, and accords the "four assignations" (of funds, powers, tasks and responsibilities) to the provinces, (autonomous regions and municipalities). All the funds assigned to the provinces are to be arranged and used by the people's government at the provincial level, which shall organize the relevant departments to plan and implement the development projects.
Strengthening the Building of the Primary Organizations
The rural primary organizations in China have an important role to play in mobilizing and organizing the people to participate in the development-oriented poverty reduction work aimed at reshaping their own destiny. The Chinese Government has stressed improving the rural organizations at the village level in its poverty reduction drive, in order to enhance the degree of self-organization of the peasant households and guide them to bear an active part in the drive. In the past year, the Chinese Government has vigorously carried out the direct election system of villagers' committees in rural areas, so that people who are really supported by the masses and are able to lead them to shake off poverty can be elected as village cadres according to the principle of openness, fairness and justice. At the same time, a policy has been strictly carried out, whereby village affairs, such as revenue and expenditure, the distribution and use of the poverty relief funds, and the conclusion and alteration of contracts are left open to the villagers for their examination and supervision.
In carrying out its aid-the-poor program, the Chinese Government has persistently centered its efforts on economic construction, developing the productive forces of poverty-stricken areas, and combining development with relief. It aims at helping the rural poor to shake off poverty through various ways and channels, and by adopting comprehensive coordinative measures.
Adhering to the Policy of Development-oriented Poverty Alleviation
Providing development-oriented aid to the poor is a reform of and adjustment to the old, traditional way of dispersed relief, forming the core and basis of the Chinese Government's aid-the-rural-poor policy. Adhering to the policy of development-oriented aid means centering efforts on economic construction, supporting and encouraging cadres and ordinary people in poor areas to improve their production conditions, exploit local resources, develop commodity production, and strengthen their ability to accumulate funds and develop by themselves.
The policy of development-oriented aid mainly consists of the following five aspects: First, advocating and encouraging the spirit of self-reliance and hard work, and helping poor peasant households overcome the common attitude of "waiting for, relying on and requesting" aid. Second, considering that the poor areas are weak in infrastructure and capability for defense against natural disasters, the state encourages and supports poor peasant households to put labor into the construction of infrastructure, such as farmland, irrigation works and highways, by arranging necessary work-relief funds, so as to improve the conditions for developing production. Third, the state provides concessional loans for special aid items at discounted interest, and formulates preferential policies, centering on helping the poverty-stricken areas and peasant households develop market-oriented crop cultivation, aquiculture and poultry raising and corresponding processing industries, so as to increase production and incomes. Fourth, conducting training in advanced practical agrotechiques, in order to improve poor peasant households' sci-tech and cultural levels, and strengthening their ability to develop by themselves. Fifth, combining development-oriented aid with soil and water conservation, environmental protection and ecological construction, implementing the strategy of sustainable development, and helping poor areas and peasant households enhance their ability to make further progress.
Bringing Aid Within the Reach of Individual Villages and Households
Since the beginning of the 1990s, considering the reality of the poverty-stricken areas, China has paid special attention to making aid accessible to individual villages and households, as an important measure. The state has also used the individual household as the basic unit in quantifying the various indices for solving the poor peasant households' problem of food and clothing.
China has developed many effective ways in the practice of work in this regard: First, assigning individual households to cadres, which means organizing cadres at all levels to form a "one helps one" team with individual poor peasant households, and making clear the cadres' duties in this respect by signing a responsibility contract or through other ways. Second, households raise their incomes through the help of economic entities, which means realizing a benign circle of production, supply and marketing of agricultural products by encouraging enterprises to cooperate with peasant households in setting up bases for producing or processing agricultural products. Third, development through relocation, whereby poor households are persuaded to move from their native places, where production and living conditions are exceptionally bad, to places with better conditions, so as to help lift them out of poverty. Fourth, encouraging all social sectors to aid poor peasant households.
One of the key measures for making aid accessible to individual households is providing small-amount credit loans. Having learned from the aid-the-poor experiences of other countries and international organizations, the Chinese Government has achieved good results in providing poor households with small-amount credit loans. By 1999, a total of three billion yuan had been loaned to over 2.4 million poor peasant households. At the same time, China has primarily standardized the experimentation with and promotion of small-amount credit loans, and has entered the new stage of enlarging the involved population, as well as the scale.
Aiding the Poor with Technology and Education
In 1986, in accordance with the state's general strategy and requirements in poverty relief, relevant authorities of the Chinese Government proposed the aim, measures and implementation methods of aiding the poor with technology. In 1996, they formulated an Outline of the National Plan for Aiding the Poor with Technology (1996-2000), strengthening the policy guidance for aid along this line.
In order to further enhance the ability of poverty-stricken areas to fight poverty, the Chinese Government has provided special funds for aiding the poor with technology, which have been used for introducing, testing, demonstrating and promoting improved seed strains and advanced practical technologies, and for conducting technological training. Since 1995, the State Education Commission and the Ministry of Finance have jointly implemented the National Project of Compulsory Education in Poor Areas, through which over 10 billion yuan has been provided for all state-designated poor counties, some province-designated poor counties, old revolutionary base areas and ethnic minority areas, to help them institute the national nine-year compulsory education.
The Chinese Government encourages institutions of higher learning and scientific research institutes to promote advanced practical agrotechniques in poor areas, and has organized scientific and technological personnel and research institutions to teach in poor areas or promote agrotechniques in poor townships or villages. These measures have effectively changed the backward modes of production in these areas, increased the yield of farmland, and swiftly raised peasants' incomes. In the past 15 years, the Ministry of Science and Technology has sent, by turnstile count, 30,000 technicians to poor areas, implemented 580 model projects of aiding the poor with technology, set up 1,500 technological demonstration centers, solved over 200 key technological problems, and promoted over 2,000 suitable techniques in poor areas.
Mobilizing and Organizing All Social Sectors to Participate in Aiding the Poor
Based on the uniform requirements of the Central Government, to solve the food and clothing problem of the impoverished population as soon as possible, and in accordance with the actual conditions of the poor areas, government departments have borne an active part in the development-oriented poverty reduction drive. They have drawn up specific implementation plans for their own technological aid projects, employing a series of favorable policies to help poor areas to develop and poor people to shake off poverty. Making full use of their own advantages, these departments have contributed to the development and construction in poor areas by favoring them in providing funds, materials and technology.
Since the mid-1980s, more and more units and organizations have participated in development-oriented aid-the-poor work, including central government organs, enterprises and institutions, non-Communist parties and mass organizations, and the scale has been steadily enlarged. Each department or organization has a specific target of aid and definite responsibilities, keeping up its aid until the aided have shaken off poverty. By the end of 2000, the number of such units and organizations had reached 138, involving over 3,000 cadres, 4.4 billion yuan in direct investment, and 10.5 billion yuan in funds from domestic and overseas sources.
The provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, and the poor areas themselves have put energetic efforts into the poverty reduction work in specific areas. From 1995 to 1999, about 46,000 cadres were sent to do aid-the-poor work in poor counties and villages; as much as 8.762 billion yuan worth was directly invested, both in cash and in kind; a total of 10.3 billion yuan in support funds was derived from other sources; over 20,000 aid projects were launched; and over 13,000 technicians and nearly 7,000 items of technology were introduced.
In addition, social organizations, non-governmental organizations and private enterprises have actively initiated or participated in a wide spectrum of aid-the-poor activities, such as the Hope Project, Cause of Glory, Aid-the-Poor Through Culture, Happiness Project, Spring Buds Program, Young Volunteers' Project of Supporting Education in Poor Areas in Relays, and Poor Peasant Households' Self-Support Project. A project aimed at helping children from poor families to go to school, the Hope Project has received a total donation of nearly 1.9 billion yuan from both home and abroad since its inauguration in 1989, with which to fund the establishment of 8,355 Hope schools and help nearly 2.3 million children to go to school.
Cooperation of the Eastern and Western Regions in the Aid-the-Poor Work
In order to speed up the pace of eliminating poverty in the western region, China has adopted the idea of getting the more-developed provinces and municipalities in the east to support the development of their western counterparts. This scheme is carried out as follows: Beijing helps Inner Mongolia; Tianjin helps Gansu; Shanghai helps Yunnan; Guangdong helps Guangxi; Jiangsu helps Shaanxi; Zhejiang helps Sichuan; Shandong helps Xinjiang; Liaoning helps Qinghai; Fujian helps Ningxia; and the cities of Dalian, Qingdao, Shenzhen and Ningbo help Guizhou. Based on the principles of "taking advantages of each other's strengths, mutual benefit, long-term cooperation and common development," the cooperating parties have joined efforts in all aspects and at multiple levels, including cooperation between enterprises, project aid, and personnel exchange. Such cooperation between the eastern and western regions focuses on improving the production conditions and ecological environments in the poor areas as well as solving the food and clothing problem in these areas. Following the laws of the market economy, making full use of science and technology, and mobilizing all social forces, various forms of economic cooperation have been conducted, while efforts are being made to realize more such cooperation.
In the recent year, nearly 2.14 billion yuan-worth of donated funds and materials have been provided by the governments of 13 provinces and municipalities and various social sectors in the east; 5,745 project agreements have been signed; investments of over 28 billion yuan have been agreed upon, of which over four billion yuan has already been invested; and 517,000 workers have been transferred from the poor areas. The eastern and western regions have also cooperated in cadre exchange, personnel training, establishing schools, building basic farmland and highways, easing the shortage of drinking water for people and livestock, and so on. Since 1992, the State Education Commission and State Ethnic Affairs Commission have organized the more developed provinces and municipalities to support education work in the poor areas and areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, building or rebuilding 1,400 primary and secondary schools, helping nearly 40,000 children to go to school, and training 16,000 primary and secondary school teachers.
Aiding the Poor by Encouraging Migration
The state encourages and supports poor peasant households to move out of areas with extremely difficult living conditions to more favorable areas, which is a new way to solve their food and clothing problem. The Chinese Government has stressed that the poor population migrating voluntarily, in addition to enjoying the state's preferential aid-the-poor policies, should be helped by local governments through their specific measures and preferential terms, to guarantee that each migrating household's food and clothing problem is solved. This work has been undertaken according to the principles of migration by free will, resettlement in the nearest possible areas, acting within the limit of resources, and the provision of appropriate subsidies.
The major methods of aiding the poor by migration include: First, governments subsidize the poor households for migrating and resettling near their relatives or friends. Second, governments establish migrants' settlements, and make sure that their food and clothing problem is solved without damaging the ecological environment around the settlements. Third, the migrants are allowed to keep their old homes until the new settlements are well in shape for stable production and habitation. In the recent year, about 2.6 million of the poor have been relocated in various ways and through various channels, among whom 2.4 million have already settled down. The total poor population that needs to migrate has shrunk from 7.5 million to about five million.
Transferring Labor from Poor Areas
To increase the chances of employment and the income of workers in poor areas, the state encourages and organizes the transfer of labor from areas favorable for such transfer. Such labor transfer will not only increase the employment and income of workers from the poor areas, but, more importantly, it will also enable these people to learn new technologies, life-styles and working methods from the places where they work, to broaden their outlook, increase their self-confidence and improve their ability to develop independently. Many migrant workers from the western region have become envoys for spreading in the western region the modes of production, life-styles, culture and technologies from the more developed eastern region. In Sichuan Province, there are over eight million workers employed outside the province each year, ranking first in the country, and every year they send about 20 billion yuan back to their native places.
Combining Poverty Reduction with Eco-environmental Protection and Family Planning
While developing the poor areas, the Chinese Government pays close attention to the protection of the ecological environment, and encourages peasants to develop ecologically-and environmentally-friendly agriculture. Poverty reduction by reliance on science and technology has helped to change the previous way of production by indiscriminate means at the expense of the ecology in poor areas, and gone a long way toward promoting sustainable development in these areas.
The large quantity, high growth and low quality of the population in the poor areas have seriously handicapped economic and social development, the efforts to solve the food and clothing problem, and the peasants' attempts to shake off poverty and get rich. The Chinese Government specially emphasizes changing the people's ideas on the family in the poor areas, and encourages them to closely adhere to the national family planning policy. The combination of family planning with poverty reduction has produced important effects on the coordinated development of the population, economy and society and the sustainable development of the impoverished areas.
Promoting International Exchange and Cooperation in Aid-the-Poor Work
The Chinese Government carries out its aid-the-poor program mainly by its own efforts, at the same time paying attention to exchange and cooperation with the international community in this sphere of endeavor. The Chinese Government believes that promoting such exchange and cooperation will not only help speed up the solving of the food and clothing problem of its own poor population, but it will also help raise the general level of China's aid-the-poor work by learning from the international community its long years of experience and successful methods in aiding the poor. Since the 1990s, the Chinese Government has actively studied the international anti-poverty experience, and continuously widened its cooperation with international organizations in work in this particular field, in which it has made obvious progress.
The World Bank was the first international body to cooperate with the Chinese Government in aid-the-poor work, and has made the largest investment so far. The three-stage aid-the-poor loan project jointly carried out by the World Bank and China in the southwestern areas, the Qinling and Daba mountain areas and the western region has involved a total of 610 million US dollars, covering nine provinces and autonomous regions, 91 poverty-stricken counties and over eight million poor people. In July 1995, the Southwestern China-World Bank Loan Project started in the 35 state-designated poorest counties in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Of the total investment of 4.23 billion yuan, 247.5 million US dollars were in the form of loans from the World Bank; the Chinese Government provided a supporting fund of 2.18 billion yuan. This project mainly involved mega-agriculture, infrastructure, development of secondary and tertiary industries, labor service export, education, health care and poverty monitoring. The project is expected to eventually solve the food and clothing problem of 3.5 million needy people. This inter-province, inter-industry comprehensive aid project is the largest of its kind in China, and one that has made use of the largest amount of foreign funds so far. Having progressed smoothly, the project is currently in its phase-out period.
In addition, some other countries, international organizations and non-governmental organizations have also conducted a wide range of cooperation with China in aid-the-poor work. The United Nations Development Program has carried out some aid and research projects in China. Other governments and organizations that have successfully carried out aid-the-poor projects in China include the European Union, the governments of Great Britain, the Netherlands and Japan, the German GTZ, the Asian Development Bank, the Ford Foundation, the CARE of Japan, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the World Vision International, and the Hong Kong Oxfam.
Ethnic minorities, the disabled and women are special groups among China's impoverished rural population. The Chinese Government pays great attention to poverty alleviation work for these special groups, adopting effective measures to help them get rid of poverty together with other impoverished people.
The Poverty Alleviation Program for Ethnic Minorities and Minority Areas
China is a multi-ethnic country. Restricted by historical, social and natural conditions, the economic and social development of many ethnic minority areas is backward. According to statistics, by 1994 the impoverished parts of the ethnic minority areas were mainly located in western China, including five autonomous regions, 20 autonomous prefectures and 49 autonomous counties. Among the 348 ethnic minority autonomous counties across the country, 257 were poverty-stricken counties given priority in aid. The Chinese Government lays stress on anti-poverty work in the impoverished parts of the ethnic minority areas and extends to these areas special preferential policies and measures.
Giving special treatment to ethnic minorities, raising the standard for relief and aiding more poverty-stricken minority areas. In 1986, the relief standard set by the state for the poor counties on its priority list was less than 150 yuan in the peasants' income per capita in 1985, whereas for autonomous counties, the standard was less than 200 yuan. For the impoverished autonomous counties (banners) in pastoral areas and semi-agricultural and semi-pastoral areas, the standard was less than 300 yuan and 200 yuan per peasant and herdsman, respectively, between 1984 and 1986. In 1994, when the state set about designating the poverty-stricken counties that it should attach greater importance to, it also extended special attention to the ethnic minority areas: Among the 592 impoverished counties on the state's priority list, there were 257 ethnic minority counties, accounting for 43.4 percent.
Favoring ethnic minority areas in appropriating funds from the central budget. To intensify the aid to ethnic minority areas, the state not only favors Tibet and the other four autonomous regions and western provinces with large ethnic minority populations such as Yunnan, Guizhou and Qinghai in allocating aid-the-poor funds, but it has also arranged special funds such as the "Ethnic Minority Development Fund" to solve the special difficulties and problems of the ethnic minorities and minority areas. According to statistics, from 1994 to 2000, the state invested 43.253 billion yuan in the Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Tibet, Ningxia and Xinjiang autonomous regions, and Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai provinces, accounting for 38.4 percent of the nation's total. These included 19.415 billion yuan from the financial funds (including 12.722 billion yuan of work-relief funds), constituting 40 percent of the nation's total; and 23.838 billion yuan in credit funds, constituting 37.8 percent of the nation's total. Over the past six years, the state and local government have invested 1.22 billion yuan in Tibet for launching many anti-poverty projects.
Thanks to the common efforts of all sectors of society, especially the persistent hard work of the cadres and people of the minority areas, the poverty-alleviation work has attained marked achievements in the impoverished parts of the ethnic minority areas.
-The impoverished population is shrinking substantially and the impoverishment rate is decreasing sharply. Statistics show that the impoverished populations of the five autonomous regions and three provinces mentioned above declined from 20.86 million in 1995 to 11.85 million in 1999-a decrease of 9.01 million in four years. Moreover, the impoverishment rate declined from 15.6 percent in 1995 to 8.7 percent in 1999-a decrease of 6.9 percentage points. Since the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program was started in Tibet, with clear aims in view the government has adopted a sequence of special measures for poverty-alleviation. As a result, the situation of long-standing poverty in the rural and pastoral areas of Tibet has changed radically, and the impoverished population has decreased from 480,000 in the early 1990s to just over 70,000.
-The peasants' incomes are increasing rapidly, and their living conditions are improving. In the 232 poverty-stricken counties included in the state's priority aid in the five autonomous regions and three provinces with large ethnic minority populations, the net income per capita of the peasants rose from 630 yuan in 1995 to 1,189 yuan in 1998-an increase of 88.7 percent, or 28.7 percentage points higher than the average increase level of the total 592 impoverished counties receiving the state's priority aid. From 1994 to 1999, the net income of the peasants per capita in the 49 impoverished counties in Guangxi rose from 606 yuan to 1,836 yuan, and the grain yield per capita rose from 310 kg to 380 kg, becoming the first among the ethnic minority areas to reach the objectives of the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program. By the end of 2000, the net income of the peasants and herdsmen per capita in the 18 counties in Tibet receiving state priority aid had reached 1,316 yuan, approaching the nation's average. In Xinjiang, the settlement and semi-settlement rate of the herdsmen rose from 49.5 percent in 1994 to 80 percent in 1999.
-Infrastructure facilities are improving remarkably and social undertakings are developing steadily. According to incomplete statistics, from 1994 to 1999, the five autonomous regions and three provinces with large ethnic minority populations solved the problem of drinking water for 21.635 million people and 29.347 million dranght animals. A total of 26.265 million mu of basic farmland was developed, and 6.72 million mu of meadows were fenced in for livestock grazing. Also, 67,500 km of roads connecting counties, townships and villages were constructed. By the end of 1999, all the townships in Guangxi were connected by roads; some 95 percent of the villages in the 49 poverty-stricken counties were accessible by automobile; 95 percent of the villages had access to electricity and TV programs; and 85 percent of the villages had telephone lines. Besides, education, public health and other social undertakings have developed rapidly in the impoverished parts of the ethnic minority areas.
Aid to the Poverty-stricken Disabled
The disabled form a special social group in straitened circumstances. Currently, there are over 60 million disabled in China, accounting for approximately five percent of the total population. Of them, 80 percent live in the rural areas, and a large number live in poverty due to their own disability and the influence of the external environment. It is estimated that in 1992 there were about 20 million impoverished disabled people in China. Among the disabled poor in the rural areas, 30 percent lived in the 592 state-designated impoverished counties. The Chinese Government has all along attached great importance to and shown concern about poverty alleviation for the disabled, and has adopted a series of effective measures in this regard:
-Making poverty alleviation for the disabled an important part of the state's poverty alleviation program. The state makes unified arrangements to implement poverty alleviation work for the disabled. Both the Outline of the Work for the Disabled in China During the Eighth Five-Year Plan Period and the Outline of the Work for the Disabled in China During the Ninth Five-Year Plan Period approved by the Chinese Government contain coordinated implementation schemes for poverty alleviation for the disabled. In 1998, the state specially formulated the Priority Poverty Alleviation Program for the Disabled (1998-2000) to ensure comprehensive arrangements for poverty alleviation for the disabled, fixing the objectives, tasks, methods, measures and policies for work in this connection. The local governments at various levels also give priority aid to the disabled, drawing up plans, implementing projects, ascertaining responsibilities, and providing energetic manpower, financial and material support.
-Offering special loans to alleviate poverty among the disabled. In 1992, the state established a special rehabilitation and poverty alleviation loan to aid the impoverished disabled. By 2000, 2.6 billion yuan had been loaned to such people. In the past year, great efforts have been made to provide small-amount credit loans for individual households and persons, which has become a major method of helping the disabled shake off poverty. In Henan, Guizhou, Inner Mongolia, Yunnan, Heilongjiang and ten other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, such loans have exceeded 70 percent.
-Strengthening the building of the poverty alleviation service system of the China Disabled Persons' Federation at the grassroots level to provide prompt and effective service for the rural disabled. In March 1998, the Coordinating Committee for the Disabled-related Work of the State Council issued the Decisions on Strengthening the Building of the China Disabled Persons' Federation at the Grassroots Level. Besides, six departments under the State Council, including the Poverty Alleviation Office, have adopted the Measures for the Implementation of the Development-oriented Poverty Alleviation Projects for the Disabled in the Rural Areas (1998-2000), setting forth the requirements in strengthening the building of the service system of the China Disabled Persons' Federation at the grassroots level. Through several years of efforts, by the end of 2000 some 80.2 percent of the counties (cities and municipal districts) across the country had established 2,238 county-level service centers for the disabled; and 60 percent of the total townships had set up 28,427 township-level service centers. A grassroots poverty alleviation service system for the disabled has taken initial shape in the countryside, providing an important organizational guarantee for aiding the disabled.
-Choosing suitable poverty alleviation projects and methods for the disabled. In view of the fact that the disabled have many difficulties participating in productive labor, stress should be laid on supporting economic sectors that can directly help tackle the food and clothing problem for the poor disabled in the rural areas. Such sectors include crop cultivation, aquiculture, poultry raising, handicrafts and household sideline production; projects that meet the needs of the development of the local market economy and coordinate with the local pillar industries and are well suited to the characteristics of the disabled; and projects with wide fund coverage and marked results for individual households and closely related to direct income increase for the impoverished disabled.
As a result of great efforts made, the number of the disabled poor in China had dropped dramatically, as evidenced by the fact that the problem of food and clothing had been solved for ten million disabled in the previous ten years, leaving only 9.79 million still beset by this problem by the end of 2000.
Aid for Poverty-stricken Women
The Chinese Government has paid great attention to helping rural women shake off poverty. The Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program of 1994 clearly stipulates that further efforts should be made to mobilize the women of the poverty-stricken areas to take an active part in the fight against poverty.
In the past year, led and encouraged by governments at all levels and organizations concerned, women in poor rural areas have taken an active part in the campaign of "learning culture and technology, and emulating each other in achievements and contributions." Numerous women have been taught to read and write, and some of them have undergone applied technology training and obtained the title of agrotechnician, and are now playing leading roles in developing productivity by reliance on science and technology in the poverty-stricken areas. The biggest women's organization in China, the All-China Women's Federation, has helped 3.47 million impoverished women out of poverty and get rich by providing poverty alleviation services, conducting cultural and technological training, facilitating small-amount credit loans, organizing labor service transfer and mutual help, and initiating poverty alleviation projects specially for women.
The state has mobilized all non-governmental sectors to show concern for impoverished women and support social relief activities for women in poverty-stricken areas. Such activities as the Happiness Project to help impoverished mothers, the Spring Buds Program for supporting girl dropouts in poverty-stricken areas and the Cistern Project to aid women in the water-deficient areas of western China, have played an active role in helping rural women to erase poverty quickly. By May 2000, some 145 million yuan had been put into the Happiness Project, helping 107,472 people and indirectly benefiting 483,000 people. By July 2000, the Spring Buds Program had raised 330 million yuan to help 1.05 million girl dropouts return to school.
Alleviating and eliminating poverty remains a long-term historical task for China. In order to quicken the pace of solving the problem of poverty, which remains unsolved to a certain degree in certain areas, a meeting on this issue was held in May 2001 by the Central Government. An overall plan for aiding the poor in rural areas in the first ten years of the 21st century was worked out. After the meeting, the Chinese Government officially issued the Outline for Poverty Alleviation and Development of China's Rural Areas (2001-2010), setting out the objectives, tasks, guiding ideology, and policies and principles for work in this regard in the coming ten years. The Outline is another programmatic document following the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program for guiding the poverty alleviation work in the rural areas.
The development-oriented poverty alleviation drive in rural China early in the 21st century is a rare historical opportunity, but it still faces serious challenges and problems.
China today is blessed with many favorable conditions, some of them much more favorable than in the past, in its poverty alleviation drive. Great attention has been paid to the work by governments at various levels; support has been given by all sectors of society; and the cadres and ordinary people of the poor regions are working hard with one heart and one mind. These are the most important conditions for guaranteeing the steady progress of the work. With regard to the objective environment, we have the following favorable conditions:
-A sound base has been laid for the poverty alleviation work. After more than 20 years of hard work, the problem of food and clothing of the impoverished population has been basically solved; production and living conditions in poverty-stricken areas have improved by a wide margin; the ability to withstand natural calamities and develop production in those areas has been strengthened; and we have accumulated a rich store of successful experiences and found out a number of effective methods in the practice of the poverty relief work. All these are helpful to the progress of our future work in this regard.
-The sustained growth of the economy in the future will quicken the process of the work of poverty alleviation. Practice has proved that economic growth is the key to solving the problem of poverty. The coefficient of elasticity of the reduction of China's poverty-stricken population and economic growth was -0.8 in the 1990s. That means that the increase of one percentage point of the GDP will reduce the size of the rural poor by 0.8 percent. In accordance with the state's economic development plan, China's economy will score an annual increase of seven percent in the coming five years. So there will be a further demand for workers, some of whom will come from the poor areas. As a result, the standard of living in those areas will be improved. At the same time, along with the steady improvement of the comprehensive national strength, the state will pour more resources into development and construction in the poor areas, providing a sound material base for the development of those areas.
-The economic restructuring is conducive to the development of the poor areas. At this time when there has been an increasingly fierce competition in both domestic and foreign markets, China is devoting major efforts to adjusting and optimizing its industrial structure. The developed regions, on the one hand, have quickened the pace of upgrading their industries and energetically developing capital- and technology-intensive industries. On the other hand, in order to improve the competitiveness of their industries, they are transferring some labor-intensive industries to the less-developed areas. The poor areas, mostly situated in the central and western parts of China, have relatively rich resources and cheap labor, which place them in a locationally advantageous position to respond to such transference. It is fully possible for the western region to import capital and technology, and accept transferred industries, so as to improve their position in the division of regional industries and quicken the change of local industrial structure and economic development.
-The implementation of the large-scale development strategy for the western region is also helpful for poverty alleviation and will have a far-reaching influence on the reduction of the impoverishment rate. The focus of the development strategy is on quickening the construction of infrastructure, especially the building of water conservancy, transportation and telecommunications facilities, and the strengthening of eco-environmental protection and construction. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan period (2001-2005), a large number of projects will be undertaken in the western region. In addition, many preferential policies for the development of the western region have been formulated by the state, such as the increase of the percentage of foreign capital to be used by the western region and special state bonds issued mainly for the development of this region. The construction of a sequence of major projects and the implementation of the preferential policies will lay a good foundation for eliminating the backwardness of the poor areas in the western region.
-Opening wider to the outside world will bring new opportunities for the development of the poor areas. After China joins the WTO, the markets of these areas will expand further and open wider to the outside world, which will be favorable for the development of their advantageous labor- and resource-intensive industries, bringing more employment opportunities. Though the existing industries in those areas may be adversely affected after China enters the WTO, in the long run this will be good for the transfer of their workers and the export of their labor-intensive products.
Difficulties and Problems
The main difficulties and problems for China in the early period of the 21st century in the field of poverty alleviation are as follows: First, though the income of the poverty-stricken people has been obviously improved, the current standard for poverty relief in China is very low. Second, restricted by unfavorable natural conditions, weak social insurance system and their own poor comprehensive ability, the people who now have enough to eat and wear may easily sink back into poverty. Third, although the development-oriented poverty reduction drive has greatly changed the poverty and backwardness of the vast impoverished rural areas, there has been no qualitative change either in the basic production and living conditions of the poverty-stricken peasant households, or in the social, economic and cultural backwardness in those areas. Fourth, because of its large population, China will face employment pressure for a long period to come. This pressure is bound to adversely affect the employment of the impoverished population, so much so that many effective aid-the-poor measures will not play the roles they should play. Fifth, people who still do not have enough to eat and wear generally live in areas with adverse natural environments, a low level of social development and underdeveloped social services, where the contrast between input and result is very sharp.
Targets and Goals
The Chinese Government will persist in taking those in impoverished areas who do not have enough to eat and wear as the first to be helped. Though their number is not large, there are a lot of difficulties in helping them get rid of poverty. At the same time, those who have just enough to eat and wear should be helped steadily to shake off poverty. Because their production and living conditions have not basically changed and they are not strong enough to fight natural calamities by themselves, these people will easily sink back into poverty once struck by natural disasters. So our future task is to further help those people become rich after they have shaken off poverty.
China's overall poverty alleviation goal from 2001 to 2010 is as follows: To help the small number of needy people without enough to eat and wear attain that minimum standard of living as soon as possible, and further improve the basic production and living conditions of the poor areas and consolidate the results gained in this regard. At the same time, the quality of life and comprehensive quality of the poverty-stricken people shall be improved, and construction of infrastructure facilities shall be speeded up in impoverished rural areas. In addition, their eco-environment will be improved, and their social, economic and cultural backwardness changed, so as to create the conditions for a future comfortable life.
From 2001 to 2010, the Chinese Government will concentrate its poverty alleviation efforts on the ethnic minority areas, old revolutionary base areas, border areas and destitute areas in the central and western regions. Some counties will be designated for special help. The government will use its financial, material and human resources in a concentrated way in the comparatively concentrated poor areas. A unified plan will be drawn up, which will be carried out on a yearly basis. The government will combine separate guidance with a comprehensive approach in the work.
Ways and Means
The Chinese Government will adopt the following ways and means in its poverty alleviation work up to 2010:
-Continuing to put the stress on crop cultivation and aquiculture and poultry raising, and efforts will be concentrated on helping the poor people to develop specialty and competitive products in this field. With increasing the income of the poverty-stricken people as the focal point, we shall optimize the varieties of products, improve their qualities and increase their benefits by reliance on sci-tech progress. In line with the principle of improving the eco-environment, the protection and construction of the ecological environment will be strengthened so as to achieve sustainable development. With the market as the orientation, comprehensive investigation should be done concerning products that are going to be put into production. Services in the fields of information, technology and sales should be guaranteed in order to ensure the increase of production and incomes.
-Promoting the industrialized operation of agriculture. In line with the requirements for industrialized operation, farm products with resources advantages and marketability should be produced or planned and developed according to an integrated plan, so as to develop a characteristic, regionally leading industry. Great efforts will be made to develop "cooperation between farmers and companies" and a made-to-order farming. Large and medium-sized agricultural products processing enterprises capable of developing new markets should be guided or encouraged to build raw material production bases in the poor areas and provide serialized, pre-production, in-production and post-production services for impoverished peasant households, so as to form an industrialized operation featuring the integration of trade, industry and agriculture and the coordinated management of production, supply and sale.
-Increasing budgetary funds and loans for poverty alleviation. The state will further increase the scale of work-relief projects and, in line with the practical financial difficulties of the poor areas, strengthen financial transfer payments and implement the control of budgetary poverty relief funds with the household as the basic unit. The increased relief loans shall be used for developing crop cultivation, aquiculture, poultry raising, labor-intensive enterprises, farm produce processing enterprises, market circulation enterprises and infrastructure construction, which will help raise the incomes of the poverty-stricken people. Small-amount credit loans will be extended in an active and steady manner to help needy peasant households develop their production.
-Improving the basic production and living conditions of the poor areas. Construction of basic farmland, infrastructure, environmental improvement projects and public service facilities will be strengthened with the township or village as the basic unit. By 2010, the drinking water problem for both people and livestock will be basically solved in the key state-helped poor areas, and at the same time efforts will be made to provide most of the administrative villages with electricity, road access, and postal, telephone, radio and TV links. In addition, hospitals will be built in most of the poor townships, and clinics in most of the poor villages, so as to basically control the main endemic diseases seriously affecting the life and production of those areas.
-Improving the sci-tech and cultural qualities of the masses in the poor areas. In order to help the peasants acquire advanced and practical techniques, it is necessary to integrate agriculture, science and education, make overall plans for general, vocational and adult education, and run vocational and technical schools and short-term training classes with clear aims in mind. The nine-year compulsory education will be guaranteed in the poor areas, and the attendance rate of school-age children will be further raised. The old backward habits and customs will be changed, and a scientific and civilized life-style will be promoted in those areas.
-Encouraging economic organizations with diverse forms of ownership to assist with the development of the poor areas. The Chinese Government will create a better policy and investment environment to attract economic organizations with diverse forms of ownership to help the economic development of the poor areas. Necessary support will be given by the state to agricultural products processing enterprises that meet the demands of the market and can upgrade their industries and help increase the incomes of thousand and one households; resource-exploitation enterprises that will give full play to the resource advantages of the poor areas and improve their eco-environment; labor-intensive enterprises that can provide employment for the surplus labor force in the poor areas; and enterprises that can help the poor and needy solve the problem of market circulation.
-Mobilizing the whole of society to assist with the development of the poor areas. To enlist greater social involvement in this sphere of endeavor, the state will mobilize society at large to take part in the poverty alleviation drive, in addition to the resources provided by the government. In accordance with the development-oriented poverty reduction program, further efforts will be made to promote counterpart cooperation between the eastern developed coastal region and the poverty-stricken western region, enlarge the scale of the cooperation and increase the momentum of the relief work. It is necessary to encourage and guide non-governmental exchange and cooperation at different levels and in diverse forms, especially cooperation for common development between enterprises. It is also necessary to give play to the important role of all social sectors in the development-oriented poverty reduction efforts and actively create conditions for non-governmental organizations to take part in or implement the government development projects in the poor areas.
-Promoting international exchange and cooperation in development-oriented poverty relief. We shall continue our efforts to win aid projects from international organizations and developed countries. In order to guarantee the smooth carrying out of these projects, the state will increase the proportion of corresponding supportive funds appropriately, or provide full-amount supportive funds if the local budget is tight. In view of the local characteristics of the poor areas, measures should be adopted to strengthen the management of foreign-aid projects. It is necessary to work hard to improve the economic returns from foreign-loan and other foreign-aid projects, and improve our capability to repay the loans. It is also necessary to strengthen exchanges with international organizations in development-oriented poverty relief, and learn from the successful experience and effective measures introduced by the international community in this sphere of endeavor, so as to improve our poverty relief work and its overall benefits.
-Standardizing the work of development-oriented poverty alleviation. The responsibility system has to be carried out earnestly in this sphere of work. The provinces shall assume overall responsibility, while the counties shall formulate concrete measures for implementation in the villages and ensure that the individual households benefit from the work. Cadre training and the building of the democratic political power at the grassroots level in the poverty-stricken areas shall be strengthened, so as to enhance the capabilities of the cadres and organizations at the grassroots level in leading the people to get rid of poverty and become well-off. The auditing of the poverty relief funds and the relief-related statistical and supervisory work should be strengthened and become a regular practice that should be persevered in for a long period in the future. Poverty relief organs should be stable, and their leading ability and ability of coordinated management in the poverty relief work should be raised. With its steady deepening, the work for development-oriented assistance to the poverty-stricken areas should be standardized and institutionalized and gradually put into the orbit of the legal system.
China is a developing country, and it has a long way to go to shake off poverty. The basic solution of the problem of food and clothing of the poverty-stricken population in rural areas is only the result of one phase in our effort to accomplish this historic task. Subsequently, it will still take a long period of hard work to enable the people in the poor areas to first live a comfortable life and then a well-off life. With the progress of the reform and opening-up and the modernization drive and the steady increase of China's comprehensive national strength, our development-oriented poverty reduction program for the rural areas is bound to be crowned with new success.
Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
October 2001, Beijing