China vows to win battle against poverty
 ( 2015.11.23 )

BEIJING, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- China reiterated its commitment to eliminating poverty on Monday as poverty-relief is considered key to preserving social stability and increasing domestic demand.

"The realization of our goal of building a 'moderately prosperous society' hinges partly on eliminating poverty, an endeavor which has entered the last-minute dash," according to a statement issued following a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), chaired by President Xi Jinping.

Poverty relief is required for the CPC to solidify its ruling foundation and the country to achieve long term peace and stability, according to the statement titled "Decision to Win the Battle against Poverty."

As China enters the "new normal" of slower growth, poverty relief is an important way to increase domestic demand and spur growth, the statement said.

"Precision" poverty relief -- a targeted approach to fight poverty rather than the previous "one size fits all" approach -- should be the order of the day, the statement said.

The central leadership also called for parallel efforts in environmental protection, saying "the insistence on conserving lush hills should not waver."

China has vowed to lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020, when its next five-year-plan is completed.

At the end of last year, China still had 70.17 million people in the countryside living below its poverty line of 2,300 yuan (376 U.S. dollars) in annual income by 2010 price standards.

To help them requires the greatest effort yet, according to Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's economy-planning ministry.

"The majority of the impoverished live in the most remote areas and many go without access to clean water or a safe home," said Ning.

Monday's statement said China will lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2020 through support for industry, education, employment and medical care.

"Dibao," a program guaranteeing subsistence, will cover the remaining 20 million poor people who are unfit to work, and they will receive financial aid to ensure they live above the poverty line.

"This shows that China is seeking to diversify its poverty-relief measures," said Huang Chengwei, vice director of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China.

In addition, the government will improve infrastructure in rural areas, encourage financial institutions to lend support and mobilize social assistance.

Officials at all levels will be asked to make pledges that they will complete poverty alleviation targets or face punishment.

"This is the first time officials are formally asked to make such pledges," said Huang, adding that it signals the central leadership's determination to defeat poverty.

Local governments will face strict assessment of their performance in poverty elimination and punishment will be meted out to those that embezzle money earmarked to fight poverty.

Over the past three decades China has delivered 700 million rural residents from poverty. It was the first developing country to meet the Millennium Development Goals target of reducing the population living in poverty by half ahead of the 2015 deadline.