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LI RUICHANG: Tackling regional poverty requires targeted collaboration between eastern, western regions

| 2017-11-02
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

In his report to the 19th CPC National Congress, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping vowed China will win the battle against poverty, emphasizing the importance of stronger collaboration between eastern and western regions and targeted assistance to extremely impoverished areas. According to the report, China will ensure that by the year 2020, all rural residents living below the current poverty line will be lifted from poverty, and poverty will be eliminated in all poor counties and regions. Poverty reduction should reach those who truly need it and deliver genuine outcomes, Xi said in the report.


Areas of extreme poverty in China face poor natural conditions, deficient infrastructure and low labor quality. Tackling regional poverty not only requires a larger transfer payment from central government but also close cooperation between the eastern and western regions.


More importantly, officials should focus on empowering the poor to create wealth for themselves and enhance their own ability to lift themselves out of poverty for self-sufficiency, which is the radical way to end regional poverty as a whole.


The eastern regions should take “common prosperity” as the fundamental goal of the collaborative poverty reduction. During past years of exploration and practice, the Central Committee of the Party made a series of plans to strengthen anti-poverty cooperation between the eastern and western regions by providing paired assistance, under which developed regions would provide aid to selected underdeveloped regions, such as Tibet Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and the four major provinces that are home to large populations of Tibetan ethnic groups: Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan. In addition, the old revolutionary base areas have also been provided with paired assistance, forming a comprehensive, multilevel cooperative pattern of poverty relief.


Under this model, significant progress has been made in poverty-stricken areas of western China and the old revolutionary base areas, so that the trend of growing regional disparities is starting to be reversed, laying a solid foundation for the realization of common prosperity.


It is a strategic task that concerns the overall socialist modernization to ensure that all those in the countryside living below the current poverty line will be lifted from poverty, and poverty will be eliminated in all poor counties and regions by the year 2020. The local Party committees and governments of both aid recipients and donor areas involved in the partnered assistance programs should place a high premium on poverty alleviation.


In addition, the recent 19th CPC National Congress report emphasized addressing problems of unbalanced and inadequate development that China now faces, which is why drastic action to eliminate poverty is needed now more than ever.


Furthermore, since the remaining poverty-stricken regions and populations tend to be those in absolute poverty with the highest level of destitution, the model of cooperation between the eastern and western regions calls for innovation of poverty-reduction institutions and instruments. Both the eastern and western sides need to bear in mind the idea of bilateral interaction, mutual benefit and common development for equal cooperation. This tough task of historic significance cannot be accomplished in a single day or without scientific attitude, pragmatic action and arduous efforts.

 

Li Ruichang is a professor from the Institute of Marxism at Fudan University and a guest research fellow from the Shanghai Research Center for Theoretical System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.