Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged local authorities to escalate poverty-alleviation work during his weekend visit to impoverished villages in north China’s remote Fuping County.
Braving chilly weather around minus-10 degrees Celsius, Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, reached Fuping, an impoverished county set deep in the Taihang Mountains of Hebei Province, on Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday morning, Xi visited farmers’ homes in the villages of Luotuowan and Gujiatai in Longquanguan Township to get a first-hand look at people’s lives there.
During chats with villagers, Xi paid special attention to difficulties in their daily life, such as problems concerning income, food, education and medical care.
He also visited village clinics and shops and talked with village officials.
During his visit, Xi said local officials should always bear in mind poverty-stricken groups and work for them with their whole heart and soul.
Local Party and government authorities should place more emphasis on the mission of helping people out of poverty, especially people in impoverished regions, he said.
Xi also said the authorities should strive to find the right way to bring the people out of poverty by adjusting policies to conditions in a scientific manner.
Xi said policies designed to support agriculture, rural areas and farmers and alleviate poverty must be implemented fully, calling the embezzlement of poverty-alleviation funds an “intolerable crime.”
Statistics show that the annual net income per capita is only around 2,400 yuan (390 U.S. dollars) for farmers in natural resource-poor Fuping County, a former revolutionary base 300 km from Beijing.
“The most arduous and heavy task facing China in completing the building of a moderately prosperous society is in the rural areas, especially the poverty-stricken regions,” Xi said.
He made the remarks after hearing officials’ reports on local economic and social development Saturday night.
A well-off China won’t come if people in rural areas can’t live a well-off life, he said.
Xi said the central authorities are highly concerned about poverty-alleviation work, urging all local Party and government organs to fulfill their responsibilities well to bring people out of poverty quickly.
Xi’s Sunday visit, which was first reported via microblogging services, has been widely hailed by experts and commentators.
“It demonstrates his feelings for people in poverty and in former revolutionary bases,” said Ai Yiwei, professor with the Party school of the Hunan Provincial Committee of the CPC.
China aims to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society by the end of 2020, with a sharp decrease in the number of poverty-stricken residents in the country, according to a report from the 18th CPC National Congress.
The report said China will escalate efforts to boost economic and social development in old revolutionary bases, minority regions, border regions and impoverished regions, deepening the poverty-alleviation drive in rural areas.
Achieving this goal will undoubtedly be a long and arduous task, according to experts.
Based on the current poverty line of 2,300 yuan in annual net income per capita, China has 128 million impoverished people in rural areas, accounting for 13.4 percent of the population in the countryside.
Over the past three decades China has achieved great progress in alleviating poverty, a fact recognized by the international community.
However, China has a serious gap between different regions and between urban and rural areas in terms of development levels, which is a pressing issue. Resolving this problem will be a long and arduous task.
“We’re deeply inspired by General Secretary Xi’s visit,” said Li Ningtai, secretary of the CPC Fuping County Committee, adding that the county will quicken poverty-alleviation efforts.
Meanwhile, he expressed hope that more policy initiatives, regarding government allocations, and personnel training and placement, among others, will be launched to support impoverished regions like his county.
Professor Ai Yiwei said China will surely have a better future if the new leadership of the CPC carries out the country’s reform and poverty-alleviation drive earnestly and in a down-to-earth manner.
As for Xi, he expressed his own vision for change in impoverished regions. “With confidence, people can make yellow soil into gold,” said Xi.