Xi's pledge to battle poverty changes lives

By XU WEI in Beijing and ZHU LIXIN in Hefei | China Daily | Updated: 2022-07-05 07:28
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Dawan, once a poor village in Jinzhai, Anhui province, is one of many in China where poverty has been eradicated. DU YU/XINHUA

Editor's note: China Daily is publishing a series of stories reviewing President Xi Jinping's visits at home and abroad in the past decade, to showcase his vision for development in China and the world.

Villagers in nation's remote areas witness major changes in their fortunes in recent years

Just six years ago, life was hard in Dawan, a village in Anhui province where He Jiazhi has lived all his life. Young people were moving to big cities, leaving mostly elderly residents behind.

The village in Jinzhai county used to typify rural poverty in China. Many locals lived in run-down homes, and most people relied on meager incomes from sales of farm produce. It was also hard to reach the village, which is deep in the mountains.

When Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, visited Dawan in April 2016, he spent more than four hours on the road, including one hour on a winding mountain route connecting the village with the outside world.

Xi gained an impression of the impoverished villagers' lives, said He, the village's Party chief, who has vivid memories of the visit.

Xi's first stop was the home of Chen Zeping, whose wife has difficulty moving her right arm. The couple also lost their only son to a traffic accident.

"Xi asked Chen to show him the rice he had grown, and then inquired whether he had enough to eat. Xi also looked at the couple's bedding, asking if it protected them from the cold. Furthermore, he was interested in the channels they could access on their old television," He said.

After visiting another four homes, Xi sat down with villagers and local officials in the yard at the home of Chen's brother, Chen Zeshen, who was also living below the poverty line.

After listening to the villagers' comments, Xi made a powerful appeal for the nation to ensure that no one was left behind in the anti-poverty drive.

Since being elected the top Party leader in November 2012, Xi has made more than 50 inspection trips to poor regions, including all the nation's 14 contiguous poverty-stricken areas. He has also chaired seven symposiums on poverty reduction.

With the CPC due to hold its 20th National Congress in the second half of the year, analysts have highlighted Xi's dedication to overseeing a 10-year effort that lifted nearly 100 million rural residents out of poverty and ensured that poverty was eliminated in all 832 national-level poverty-stricken counties by 2020.

Chen Zhigang, dean of the China Academy for Rural Development at Zhejiang University and senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, said that fighting poverty has been the centerpiece of Xi's domestic agenda, and the strong emphasis he has placed on this issue has been a key factor underpinning the nation's phenomenal success in this regard.

The significance of targeted poverty alleviation, a strategy first put forward by Xi during a visit to Shibadong, an impoverished village in Hunan province, was highlighted by Chen Zhigang.

Xi sat down with the family of Shi Basan at their rundown home. Shi, from the Miao ethnic group, did not initially know who Xi was, as the family could not afford a TV. Xi later sat with residents in a front yard, asking them about their lives and proposing solutions to their problems. He said the factors that led to poverty in each household must be identified so that targeted solutions could be introduced.

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