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China sees poverty eliminated in more counties, closer to 2020 goal

(Xinhua)    16:59, October 17, 2018

BEIJING, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- China announced Wednesday that another 85 counties have been officially taken off the country's list of impoverished areas, marking further steps toward its goal of eradicating poverty by 2020.

The announcement, made by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, came on the fifth National Poverty Relief Day, which falls on Oct. 17 every year.

This is the largest number of counties to shake off poverty since China vowed in 2015 to win the tough battle against poverty, bringing the total number of counties removed from the poverty list since then to 153.

"This is an important achievement in the decisive stage of fighting the tough battle against poverty," said Xia Gengsheng, deputy director of the office.

The 85 counties, from nine provincial regions, went through assessments from third-party institutions before being removed from the list.

Seventy-four of them are in the country's less-developed western regions and 25 are in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, more than any other provincial region.

A county is removed from the list if less than 2 percent of its population lives below the poverty line, defined by a per capita annual income of 2,300 yuan (around 333 U.S. dollars) at 2010 prices. In the country's western regions, if less than 3 percent of the people live in poverty, the county will be removed from the list.

"Removing the 85 counties from the poverty list was in line with local economic and social development. The decision can stand tests and is recognized by the public," Xia said.

He called for continued poverty relief policies and efforts in these counties.

Poverty reduction has been high on the government's agenda and various means have been adopted, including e-commerce, relocation and improved infrastructure.

Over the past five years, more than 68 million people have been lifted out of poverty, including a total of 8.3 million relocated from inhospitable areas, and the poverty ratio has dropped from 10.2 to 3.1 percent, according to this year's government work report.

The country aims to lift at least 10 million people out of poverty this year and eradicate poverty by 2020, the target year to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

The counties that have shaken off poverty have seen improvement in infrastructure, including water and electricity supplies, and decent growth in rural residents' per capita disposable income.

Authorities are planning to eliminate poverty in about 270 counties this year, 330 counties in 2019 and 70 in 2020, according to Xia.

The quality of poverty relief work should be given priority over the schedule, he stressed.

The leading group office under the State Council will conduct random examinations on the counties being evaluated for poverty elimination to ensure that standards are not compromised.

Xia believes the country is able to realize the 2020 poverty relief goal as long as authorities stick to the current standards, fully undertake responsibility and intensify the targeted poverty relief work.

While the latest progress is encouraging, the remaining regions still in poverty are hard nuts to crack.

China has pledged to increase policy support in the future to eradicate abject poverty persisting in places such as the Tibet Autonomous Region and parts of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region as well as the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu.

The central government has arranged 12 billion yuan of additional funds this year to address abject poverty in these areas. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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