148,000 villages to be lifted out of poverty

By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-18 07:17

China has vowed to lift 148,000 villages out of poverty by 2010. The plan would benefit 23.6 million people, 80 per cent of the country's rural poor.

Liu Jian, director of the Chinese State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development, made the remarks yesterday at the Ministerial Level Poverty Reduction Seminar for Developing Countries in Beijing.

"Ten per cent of the nation's poverty-reduction funds will be used in job training for rural people in the next five years so that the group can enter the non-agricultural job market," Liu said.

"The State Council has recognized 30 labour pilot training bases across the country. A sound training network will take shape, and it is expected 90 per cent of the rural population will find jobs after they are trained."

The country will also give more support to major enterprises that contribute the most to the poverty reduction cause at the local level. To date the Leading Group Office has authorized 260 such enterprises, which help more than 13 million poor people.

China launched its poverty reduction campaign in 1986. Up to 2005, poverty alleviation aid had reached 125.6 billion yuan (US$15.7 billion), as well as 200 billion yuan (US$25 billion) in interest-free loans, the Leading Group Office report said.

The number of people living in absolute poverty, those earning less than 683 yuan (US$85.38) a year, decreased from 125 million in 1985 to 23.65 million at the end of 2005, the report said.

More than 70 per cent of villages in 592 counties originally included in the poverty alleviation plan had access to roads, electricity, telephone service, satellite TV, safe drinking water and healthcare services at the end of 2005. The enrolment rate of school-age children was 94.7 per cent.

The number of people lifted out of poverty in China represents 75 per cent the total of all developing countries, the report said.

"The Chinese leadership has formulated an ambitious vision of balanced development quite similar to the Millennium Development Goals," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote in a congratulatory letter released yesterday. "The UN applauds the emphasis on reducing inequality and promoting growth that is both sustainable and inclusive."

Liu said that aside from its domestic progress, China would like to become an international platform for exchange and collaboration on poverty reduction among developing countries.

China also issued China Poverty Eradication Awards yesterday to 12 individuals and organizations to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

In a written speech to the ceremony, Premier Wen Jiabao said the eradication of poverty in China requires a sustained and long-term effort, and governments must do more to improve living conditions in underdeveloped regions.

Poverty eradication is a historic task for China, said Wen, adding that society should support and take part in the efforts being made and that anti-poverty models should be widely publicized.

Among the winners were the United Nations Development Programme, China Construction Bank, the China Children and Teenagers' Fund, the China Lifeline Express Foundation and several individuals such as Wang Guangmei, the wife of former Chairman of People's Republic Liu Shaoqi, who passed away on Friday.