Win the Battle Against Poverty*
February 12, 2018
The 19th CPC National Congress in 2017 has made overall plans for the final stage of the battle against poverty, and relevant measures have been set out at the Central Conference on Economic Work, the Central Conference on Rural Work, and the National Conference on Development-driven Poverty Alleviation. To implement these plans and measures, we should prioritize the results of poverty alleviation, focus on severely impoverished areas, and make solid progress on all fronts.
First, we should strengthen organization and leadership. We must win the tough battle against poverty, as our Party has made a solemn promise to the people. We must be true to our promise. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, poverty eradication is the only issue on which Party and government heads at the provincial level have signed written pledges. All Party and government officials, especially top leaders at every level, must enhance their political awareness and sense of responsibility, and lead efforts to fulfill this mission.
Here I would like to emphasize that Party committees and governments of impoverished counties assume the main responsibility in poverty elimination, and their top leaders are the first persons responsible. During the final stage of the fight against poverty, officials should remain steadfast in their posts and focus on this task. Those incapable of the task should be replaced, and those involved in fraud and falsification must be held accountable. The central departments concerned should research and formulate an action plan on poverty elimination, and set a timetable and roadmap for ending extreme poverty in three years.
Second, we should adhere to our goals and standards. Our goals are: Firstly, we will help all rural population defined as poor by current standards to emerge from poverty, thus eradicating extreme poverty; secondly, we will help all impoverished counties out of poverty, thus eliminating regional poverty.
The poverty standards are an important gauge for deciding targets and measures, and also for evaluating the results of poverty elimination. The CPC Central Committee has reiterated on many occasions that in the final stage of the fight against poverty, the standards are set to deliver the Two Assurances and Three Guarantees1 , and bring key indicators of basic public services in poor areas close to the national average. We must stick to these standards from beginning to end and ensure sustainable results, neither lowering the bar nor setting expectations too high.
Third, we should enhance relevant systems and mechanisms. We will continue the working mechanism whereby the central leadership makes overall plans, provincial authorities take overall responsibility, and city and county authorities take charge of implementation. The central leadership produces the top-level design in two respects: establishing policies and providing funds for local poverty eradication on the one hand, and tightening oversight over the evaluation of results on the other. Provincial authorities make action plans in accordance with central policies, and guide and supervise implementation. City and county authorities take specific measures based on local conditions to ensure that all poverty alleviation policies and plans will deliver.
We will improve the mechanism for evaluating poverty alleviation results as our work progresses, so that provincial authorities take the lead not only in setting requirements and taking on responsibilities, but also in performance evaluation. Third-party evaluation will be improved to narrow down the scope and simplify procedures, with the focus on assessing whether the Two Assurances and Three Guarantees have been fully delivered. The provincial authorities should evaluate and review whether a county has emerged from poverty. Supervision and inspection teams sent by central authorities conduct spot checks to ensure the authenticity of evaluation results. The process of summoning provincial-level officials for inquiries into problems in their poverty alleviation work will be improved. We plan to hold another round this year, and will make this a regular practice and talk to officials whenever problems arise.
Fourth, we should take targeted measures. To win the fight against poverty, the key lies in targeted measures. To support macro decision-making and guidance, we should improve the system for registering the poor, with a focus on strengthening data sharing and analysis. We should advance targeted policy implementation. We should take into consideration local conditions, and apply different measures for different villages, households, and individuals. Solid work should be done to help the poor population by developing businesses, relocating them from inhospitable areas, creating more job opportunities, renovating dilapidated houses, improving education and health care, and developing the eco-economy.
Here I would like to emphasize poverty alleviation through business development and relocation. These are the main solutions to increasing income and eliminating poverty in the long run. Now that food and clothing are secured for the poor, we should plan for the future and aim for sustainable development of agriculture, and we must not be shortsighted in pursuit of quick successes and instant benefits. The state has invested very heavily in relocation projects for the poor. We cannot relocate people indiscriminately, for example moving households that need not move and leaving poor households where they are. In the next three years all registered poor in need of relocation will be relocated first, and other residents in the same villages who are eligible for relocation will also be catered for. Poor people who cannot be relocated for the time being should be guaranteed basic food and clothing and proper access to compulsory education, medical care, and safe housing. Future poverty alleviation can be combined with the rural revitalization strategy to relocate the poor step by step, for the purpose of protecting the eco-environment and making steady progress in poverty elimination and towards prosperity.
Fifth, we should improve fund management. Often substantial in value and covering many areas and locations, poverty alleviation funds are managed over a long course, making their supervision difficult and thus attracting wide attention. We should strengthen supervision to ensure that the use of funds is transparent and clean. We should increase financial input to ensure it matches the goals of poverty elimination. We should integrate funds for poverty alleviation and improve the management of agricultural funds, to ensure that they support the targeted programs while increasing efficiency and benefits.
We will establish databases of county-level poverty alleviation programs, strengthen evaluation, and expand the reserve of potential programs, preventing funds from lying idle or being wasted. We should improve the public information system, in which the allocation and utilization of poverty alleviation funds at the provincial, city and county levels will all be made public; programs and their use of funds at the township and village levels will be open to public scrutiny. Those committing corruption in poverty alleviation, once identified, must be investigated and held accountable.
Sixth, we should improve our conduct. The CPC Central Committee has designated 2018 a year of improving Party conduct in fighting poverty. We should focus on identifying and resolving problems, particularly weaknesses in the Four Consciousnesses, unfulfilled responsibilities, untargeted measures, poor management and use of funds, improper working practices, and lax performance evaluation. A long-term mechanism should be put in place to ensure that prominent problems in poverty alleviation, once reported, are thoroughly investigated. Confirmed cases of misconduct must be made public, and those responsible held accountable. We must draw lessons from those cases, improve our policies and measures, and strengthen regulatory systems to close the gap between the bars of the institutional cage.
Seventh, we should enhance the training of officials. The key to fighting poverty lies in their way of thinking, capabilities and drive. Competent personnel are what poor areas most need. In recent years we have selected and dispatched large numbers of officials and professionals to work in poor areas. In the long run, however, the number of people we can send is always limited. Poor areas must rely on their own officials and professionals to develop. This year we will focus on training for poverty alleviation officials at all levels. Central authorities will organize training for leading officials at the provincial level. Provincial, city and county authorities should strengthen training for officials at their own levels, with different priorities and focuses.
For officials at the county level and above, the focus of training should be improving their political awareness, forming a sound attitude towards performance, mastering approaches to targeted poverty elimination, and developing the ability to analyze and resolve problems. For officials working at the grassroots, the focus is improving their ability to tackle practical problems, so there should be more case studies and on-the-spot training. To enhance their ability in targeted poverty alleviation and eradication, we should cultivate officials to be well-versed in poverty reduction policies, capable of solving problems, and disciplined in their conduct.
We should attract a broad range of professionals to join poverty elimination and rural development, encouraging college graduates, former servicepeople, and people working or doing business else-where to return to their home villages or take leadership positions or start businesses. We should take better care of grassroots officials fighting poverty and encourage them to work harder during the toughest stage towards final success, by making sure that the capable are in the right positions, the hard-working are duly rewarded, and those who sacrifice themselves for the cause are remembered by all.
Eighth, we should motivate the poor. Impoverished people are both recipients and implementers of poverty alleviation. We should help them access education and build aspirations. We should boost their enthusiasm and initiative, and motivate and guide them to improve their lives through their own efforts, so as to make the poverty eradication process an internally sustainable force.
We should improve our approach to the fight against poverty by providing jobs instead of giving grants, and by rewarding and subsidizing productive activities, so that the poor get more involved in poverty alleviation programs. We cannot do their work for them or simply dole out money and supplies. Instead we must encourage more pay for more work. By strengthening guidance through regular communication sessions and material rewards, we will encourage the poor to learn from and catch up with each other, and motivate them to rise out of poverty as soon as possible.
The role of village rules and established practices should be brought into play. We can establish poverty alleviation councils, ethics panels, and wedding and funeral councils to guide the poor in abandoning outdated customs and cultivating healthy practices through different channels. This will also ease people's financial burdens. Role models should be leading protagonists. Their stories should be spread so that the poor are motivated and feel proud of freeing themselves from poverty, and earn a better living through hard work.
In three years' time, when we have defeated poverty in this generation, we will have brought to an end, once and for all, the extreme poverty that has shackled the Chinese nation for millennia. This will be a source of great pride. Let us work together to achieve this goal, one of great significance to the Chinese nation and to the whole of humanity. It is my belief that as long as the whole Party and the people pull together and work hard, we are sure to win this battle.
* Part of the speech at the Seminar on Targeted Poverty Elimination.
1 This refers to assurances of adequate food and clothing, and guarantees of access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing for impoverished rural residents.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)