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China's poverty alleviation efforts "nothing short of remarkable": ADB economist

(Xinhua)    17:04, December 03, 2020

MANILA, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- "China's poverty alleviation achievements over the last 40 years have been nothing short of remarkable," James Lynch, director-general of the East Asia Regional Department of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has said.

China has announced that it has removed all remaining impoverished counties from the poverty list, meaning that for the first time in its history, the country is free of absolute poverty.

"In 1978, extreme poverty was running at 80 percent in the country. But since then, a combination of rapid economic growth and effective anti-poverty policies have eliminated extreme poverty," Lynch told Xinhua in a recent written interview.

Over the past 40-plus years of reform and opening up, more than 700 million people in China have been lifted out of poverty, contributing more than 70 percent of the global poverty reduction efforts.

"This is an enormous contribution that China has made to the global development agenda, including meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. This achievement also contributes to greater consumer confidence and spending, which, in turn, bodes well for regional development and global growth," Lynch said.

Lynch lauded the Chinese government's role in fighting poverty, citing the increase in government spending on social services.

"By reducing poverty and increasing expenditures on social services, households in China now have greater security in terms of incomes and access to basic social services," Lynch said.

China's five-year plans are also credited to the success, Lynch said, adding that they are "instrumental in China's outstanding socioeconomic transformation."

"And I am not referring here only to the impressive development achievements of the last 40 years. China's transformation and modernization started in the 1950s," Lynch said.

He said the first five-year plan in 1953 established a solid industrial base and boosted connectivity by expanding the country's railway system.

Lynch cited a saying in China -- "If you want to get rich, build roads first," noting that the development of transportation and communication infrastructure provided farmers better access to markets and improved access to social services for people in remote areas.

As part of the global poverty reduction campaign, what China has achieved in poverty reduction efforts also provides worthwhile experience for other developing countries.

"China has become a source of knowledge for other developing countries in many areas, and especially on its effective and innovative practices in poverty reduction," Lynch wrote.

Policymakers and international development practitioners now learn from China, adapting the country's experience to their own specific conditions, he added.

He said that China has been working with other countries through various initiatives including the Global Poverty Reduction Online Knowledge Sharing Database and the Global Solicitation and Challenge Prize on Best Practices campaign.

"These initiatives are important. This exercise of building relevant project information together and presenting it in a way that others can absorb it and learn relevant lessons for their own would help development processes in other countries," Lynch said.

Lynch singled out China's development-oriented model for poverty alleviation, saying it is now the most important of the several approaches that have been used over the years to alleviate poverty, and has distinct Chinese characteristics.

"An important aspect of the development-oriented approach has been the widespread mobilization of social forces to participate in poverty alleviation," he said.

Lynch said that China is a major player in promoting regional cooperation and integration and that the rise of China is generally seen as an integrative force in promoting regional integration through trade and institutionalization of multilateral cooperation.

"China is also an active member in ADB's subregional cooperation programs. ADB has worked with China and other members to improve regional connectivity, support economic corridors, and deal with emerging regional issues," Lynch said.

He said that the ADB will continue to support China's transition to high-quality, green development through investments in three strategic areas: environmentally sustainable development, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and aging populations and health security.

"Looking ahead, China's focus on a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is welcomed and will hopefully contribute to positive spillovers within China and across Asia and the Pacific over the coming five years," Lynch said.

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

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