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UN expert: Enormous challenges ahead for China’s poverty alleviation by Yemane Haile, August 30, 2016 Adjust font size:

“China’s achievements in alleviating extreme poverty and improving social well-being have been extraordinary”

UN Special Rapporteur

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said August 23 that China’s achievements in alleviating extreme poverty in recent years, and in meeting highly ambitious targets for improving social well-being, have been extraordinary.

In a press conference he held after concluding a 9-day visit to China, Philip Alston underlined that China’s Communist Party’s determination to build a ‘moderately prosperous society’ free of extreme poverty cannot be doubted, despite the fact that it is confronted with enormous challenges in the form of slower growth rates, dramatic inequality, deep-rooted environmental degradation, and a struggle to define the rule of law. “This political will is impressive and all too uncommon in today’s world,” he emphasized.

The expert from the international body also pointed out that China has made huge progress in poverty alleviation, but that it also needs to put in place meaningful accountability mechanisms that citizens can use when their rights are violated in the context of development-related activities.

Regarding China’s target to eliminate extreme poverty by 2020, Mr. Alston said “I have no doubt that the government will succeed in that.” Stressing that his visit to China had provided him with an opportunity both to see firsthand many of those accomplishments and to understand them through the lens of China’s obligations under the body of international human rights law which it had helped to shape, Philip Alston said, “In an international setting in which all too little attention is paid to economic, social and cultural rights, I welcome the importance of China’s accords to them.”

“China has much to be proud of in the field of poverty alleviation. However, if it is to effectively ensure the implementation of its economic and social rights obligations, it needs to adopt more robust mechanisms for citizen involvement and for governmental accountability,” Alston noted.

During his stay in China, Mr. Philip Alston met and engaged with the central government and with local governments, non-governmental organizations, representatives of international organizations and academic experts in Beijing and in Yunnan province. He is expected to present a comprehensive report with his full findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in June of 2017.