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China pledges to eradicate poverty by 2020

HONG KONG (SE): China will give its wholehearted support to the global challenge of eradicating poverty by the year 2030, as set down in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, pledging to lift a further 70 million of its own people above the poverty line in the coming five years.

Xinhua reported that the president, Xi Jinping, made the promise at the Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum held in Beijing on October 16, where he said China will engage in concerted efforts with the government and the public to fight poverty.

The state news agency pointed to significant progress in China over the past 15 years, in which it says over 600 million people were raised out of what it defines as poverty.

This number accounts for 70 per cent of the global number that various governments report have had their standard of living raised above the poverty line.

China was the first country to meet the Millennium Development Goal of lifting half of those living in poverty above the delineating line.

While the realistic nature of the level at which the poverty line is set, an annual income of 2,300 yuan ($2,875), and the reliability of some of the figures used can be disputed, China has certainly achieved on this level.

Government statisticians argue that although the amount seems low, commodity prices in the poorest areas are well below world average and this must be taken into account when accessing the situation.

Xi told the forum, “Despite achievements, China remains the world’s biggest developing country and to narrow the urban-rural gap remains a big challenge for us.”

Xinhua notes that at the end of 2014, China still had 70.17 million people, mostly in the countryside, living below the poverty line.

Xi promised to make poverty alleviation a major issue in its post-2015 national economic planning and to continue to contribute to the worldwide challenge by actively supporting the efforts of poorer countries.

In a video message sent to the forum in Beijing, Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the UN, praised China’s track record.

Xinhua also reported that China would exempt, without strings attached, matured inter-governmental interest-free loans owed by heavily indebted less developed nations.

It also pledged US$2 billion ($15.5 billion) at a UN summit in August to establish an assistance fund to help developing nations.

But as the European Justice and Peace Commissions have pointed out, all donor nations must undergo a paradigm shift in their thinking on what constitutes a meaningful amount to be offered in this regard, saying that if the eradication of poverty is to become a reality, they must think in the trillions, not the billions.


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