Mi used to live in the remote Ziji Village in Yunnan’s Lushui City, where geological disasters like landslides are frequent.
“I hated rainy days because I was scared of mudslides,” said Mi, 29. “The village was a five to six hour walk from the nearest town. Transportation was inconvenient.”
Last year, thanks to China’s poverty alleviation efforts, her family moved into a beautiful house in the brand-new Weilaba Zhuhai residential compound, which houses more than 700 poor families from two townships in Lushui City. Her daughter also attends a kindergarten in the community.
Local authorities opened a poverty-relief factory there, allowing people like Mi to find jobs to increase their income. Now, all poor residents of the community have shaken off poverty.
“I am just so happy and content,” Mi said.
Mi is not alone. On Nov. 14, authorities announced that Yunnan Province, which had the country’s largest remaining poor population at the end of last year, has eradicated absolute poverty.
A majority of localities in China have cast off poverty as the country plans to eradicate absolute poverty by the end of this year in a bid to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
On Saturday, authorities in northwest China’s Gansu Province announced that it had lifted all its 75 counties out of poverty. ROAD OUT OF POVERTY
China has taken a variety of poverty-relief measures, including rural tourism, industries, relocation and better healthcare, to help people live better lives.
In Xijiang, a Miao ethnic village tucked away in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, locals have wallowed in poverty for generations, cut off from the world by mountains that surround the area.
However, as local authorities encouraged rural tourism, Hou Yanjiang, who used to be a migrant worker, started a rural restaurant, which now generates more than 5 million yuan in annual sales.
In the mountainous city of Chishui in Guizhou Province, a rocky red surface known as the Danxia landform that covers more than two-thirds of the city stands out. For local farmers, the rocks used to be a stumbling block to planting crops. Then came a government initiative that encouraged growing dendrobium nobile, a valuable Chinese herbal medicine found in the rocks. Currently, dendrobium nobile covers more than 6,000 hectares in the city, helping about 16,000 poor residents increase their salaries.
Relocation also proved to be an important step out of poverty. In the last five years, more than 9 million rural poor in China were moved out of inhospitable areas that mired generations of inhabitants in poverty.
In northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Ma Guoquan used to live in a rural area with scarce water resources. In 2017, he moved into a 96-sq-meter house by the Yellow River.
“With water from the Yellow River, irrigation became easy,” Ma said.
Better healthcare also contributed to poverty relief.
Some rural hospitals partnered with their metropolitan counterparts to offer quality medical services to rural residents.
“Illness-induced poverty is one of the toughest problems in rural areas,” said Hu Yi, head of the public hospital in the county of Zhenxiong in Yunnan Province. “Now they don’t have to travel far to get treated, not even for serious illnesses.”
These efforts have paid off, and countless rural people saw a significant improvement in their lives.
The number of Chinese living in poverty dropped from 98.99 million to 5.51 million in the last seven years. The per capita net income of the poor rose from 4,124 yuan in 2016 to 9,057 yuan in 2019, an average annual growth of 30 percent. POVERTY-RELIEF EFFORTS AGAINST COVID-19
This year, the COVID-19 epidemic threatened to complicate China’s poverty alleviation efforts.
For example, Yunnan Province still had 442,000 impoverished residents at the end of last year, with nine counties still on the poverty list. The epidemic made poverty alleviation seem difficult.
“We remain committed to poverty relief despite the epidemic,” said Xu Wenli of the provincial poverty-relief office. “We have taken strict anti-epidemic measures.”
Local authorities sent officials to rural areas to guide people to overcome the epidemic and poverty. Yang Ying, from the provincial foreign affairs office, was sent to work in the remote village of Chang’anchong.
“Even when the epidemic was most severe, we went to talk to the public and asked about their job needs,” Yang said.
Anti-poverty officials like Yang would go door to door to teach villagers how to prevent infection, while asking them about their job needs, so that when the epidemic eased, they could help villagers find employment.
Though Yunnan has cast off poverty, it is still important to continue the efforts so that villagers don’t fall back into poverty, Xu Wenli said.