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If China Can Eradicate Poverty, What’s the Matter With Us?

Oct. 17, 2016 (EIRNS)—The Chinese government released a White Paper on "China’s Progress in Poverty Reduction and Human Rights" on Oct. 17, a day designated since 2014 as the annual "Day for Eradication of Poverty." Xinhua made it available in full in English, and it is recommended reading. The Chinese strategy is premised on the principle that a government’s purpose is to "striv[e] to bring benefits and common prosperity to all"; and that only by eradicating poverty, is a country able to ensure "impoverished people’s right to life" itself.

The approach outlined in the paper is that which China put on the table at the September G20 summit: "Development is the fundamental approach to poverty eradication." The paper documents how this approach has achieved results which it rightly asserts "will figure prominently in the history of mankind’s fight against poverty:"

"Over the past 30 years or more since the launch of reform ... more than 700 million Chinese people have been raised from poverty.... The UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 shows that the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in China fell by half from 61% in 1990 to below 30% in 2002, and down to 4.2% in 2014. The number of citizens China has raised from poverty accounts for 70% of the world’s total."

But to reach the government’s goal of raising all Chinese out of poverty by 2020 "will prove a hard nut to crack," the report warns. China still has 55.75 million people—"the equivalent of the entire population of a medium-sized country"— who still live in extreme poverty, and many households who have struggled to remain free of poverty. Therefore:

"By 2020, the state is committed to ensuring that the impoverished rural population has stable access to adequate food and clothing, compulsory education, and basic medical services and housing; to realizing a growth rate of per-capita disposable income in poor rural areas higher than the national average; to achieving indices of major basic public services close to the national average levels; to ensuring that the rural population living below the current poverty threshold and all impoverished counties are all lifted out of poverty; and to solving the problems of regional poverty."

The statistics on all fronts are stunning. Education: in the last 3 years alone, dormitory units have been built for 300,000 teachers and subsidies provided for over 1 million teachers in remote rural areas. Children in pre-school programs increased by 30%, through a kindergarten-building program. The annual growth rate of rural students from poor areas enrolled in key universities was kept above 10%.

In basic infrastructure: 330,00 kilometers of rural roads have been built since 2011; more than 7,700 dangerous reservoirs and sluices repaired, more than 3,900 kilometers of river embankments built or reinforced, 14,500 kilometers of new medium and small rivers improved. Safe drinking water has been secured for 115 million rural residents; and so forth.

Compare China’s strategy of "poverty alleviation through medical security" to the end of health care under Obamacare:

"Serious illness insurance for urban and rural residents has been fully implemented, covering more than one billion residents with a reimbursement ratio of no lower than 50%. A medical emergency relief system has been established to help people suffering from serious illnesses, and universal medical care has been further improved to cover major illnesses, significantly reducing the medical costs of rural residents. Since 2012, the central government has allocated RMB79.4 billion to support infrastructure construction at 110,000 health service units in poverty-stricken areas. Programs have been carried out to offer free medical education to rural students who will return to serve in their areas, to send general practitioners to clinics in rural areas, to pair up hospitals in urban and rural areas to enable medical assistance, and to organize state-level hospitals to help and support county-level hospitals in poverty-stricken areas."

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