BEIJING, March 1 (Xinhua) -- At a grand gathering held in Beijing on Thursday to mark China's victory in its fight against absolute poverty, Shibadong, a Miao ethnic enclave in the central Chinese Province of Hunan, was honored for its outstanding achievements in the country's battle against penury.
It was in Shibadong, once a poverty-stricken mountainous village that China's strategy of targeted poverty alleviation was first put forward. Villagers there blazed a trail in poverty reduction and set an example for the country and the world.
That partially explains why Lao leader Bounnhang Vorachith led a high-level delegation to the village in 2018 to explore China's experience in targeted poverty alleviation, or precise on-the-ground measures to help lift the last remaining nearly 100-million people from deprivation.
Shibadong's story is an illustration of the global significance attached to China's success of its poverty eradication campaign, which had been seen as "almost mission impossible" by international observers.
"China, based on its own experience and theoretical ideas in poverty alleviation, is giving back to the human cause of ending poverty and providing a new reference for other countries and regions," said a research paper titled "Chinese Poverty Alleviation Studies: A Political Economy Perspective" released on Sunday by New China Research, a think tank affiliated with the Xinhua News Agency.
American Melissa Smith has spent the last two decades working as an English teacher in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northwest China. She keeps a picture taken in 1993 depicting the main street in the city of Guyuan, once home to gravel paths and shabby dwellings.
Today, "it is a modern city. I might even say it's a modern metropolis because it's a lot bigger than a lot of cities in my country," she said.
The tremendous changes that Guyuan has undergone is part of the epic story of how the largest developing country in the world ended penury.
More than seven decades have elapsed since the founding of the People's Republic of China, during which more than 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty.
Notably, over the past eight years, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line have all been lifted above it. All 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 villages have also been removed from the poverty list.
With absolute poverty eliminated in the world's most populous country, China has met the poverty eradication target set out in the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule.
"This is certainly the greatest leap to overcome poverty in history," said former World Bank President Robert Zoellick.
Such a victory was hard-won. In 2020, when China's fight against poverty entered the final stage, the COVID-19 outbreak suddenly emerged. The World Bank expected the coronavirus to throw between 119 and 124 million back into poverty in 2020.
Despite these challenges, China has become the only major economy in the world to witness positive economic growth last year and fulfilled its commitment to helping tens of millions of people escape poverty, widely seen as a confidence booster in global anti-poverty efforts.
"China has shown the world that it (poverty reduction) can be done," said Namibian President Hage Geingob.
Srey Chantha, a single mother of three children, can earn a living at home and spend time with her children thanks to a China-backed poverty reduction pilot project in Cambodia.
Through the project, a group of Chinese experts in collaboration with local authorities renovated her stilt house and taught her techniques to grow mushrooms and potted vegetables.
In addition to sending teams of Chinese experts to other countries, China has also inspired the world with its own poverty-reduction strategy, especially developing countries.
On China's poverty-reduction approach, "each household or individual is given a tailored poverty relief plan," said Cambodian government chief spokesman Phay Siphan.
"We saw many vivid examples of alleviating poverty by providing more educational resources for young generations, developing tourism in rural areas and establishing and introducing new agricultural projects to farmers," Siphan said.
"Those methods are very inspiring for Cambodia, which is also working hard to reduce the poverty rate," he noted.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his message for the 2017 Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum, said, "targeted poverty reduction strategies are the only way to reach those farthest behind and achieve the ambitious targets set out in the 2030 Agenda."
Calling China a "learner, beneficiary and innovator of global poverty alleviation theories," the recent special study by Xinhua summarized foreign experts' views of Chinese inspirations for the world as "5Ds:" Determined Leadership, Detailed Blueprint, Development Oriented, Data-based Governance and Decentralized Delivery.
To end poverty in all its forms everywhere is the first of the 17 goals that were adopted by all UN member states in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The last mile in ending extreme poverty constitutes a common problem facing countries all over the world to end poverty. "What we see as examples of poverty alleviation in China is not just a question of reducing poverty or absolute poverty. It's a kind of development that's very holistic that we see," said Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.
Actions speak louder than words in China's efforts to end absolute poverty outside its borders. The country has established the China-UN Peace and Development Fund and the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, and jointly set up frameworks including the Pilot Project of Poverty Reduction Cooperation in East Asia and the China-Africa Poverty Reduction and People's Welfare Plan.
Meanwhile, China has helped establish 24 agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa, benefiting more than 500,000 people.
According to a research report published by the World Bank in 2019, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is expected to lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million out of moderate poverty around the globe.
Analysts say China's drive to work with the international community to end absolute poverty creates favorable conditions for development, confronts issues surrounding insufficient and unbalanced growth, and closely connects the Chinese dream with the shared dream of those in developing countries to live a better life.
As Guterres said, "let's keep working together to foster greater international cooperation to eradicate poverty in all its forms and leave no one behind." Enditem