Ms. Cynthia, from Ghana, participated in the "research classes for officials on African countries' poverty alleviation policies and practices" organized by the International Poverty Reduction Center in China in 2006. As part of the curriculum, she visited a poverty reduction project in Menghua Village, Longsheng County, in southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
"Ghana has similar poverty relief projects, yet the effect is far less obvious. Ghana needs to learn from China's successful experiences in poverty relief and development," concluded Cynthia in her paper. She hopes that the Chinese government can send experts to guide poverty alleviation projects in Ghana.
"China currently exports its successful poverty relief and development programs to the countries and regions that still have large amounts of indigent people through holding training courses and seminars. This is the main way that China offers foreign aid to promote international poverty reduction," said Liu Fuhe, the director of the Department of Policy and Regulation, State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.
Meanwhile, China is undergoing the arduous task of domestic poverty reduction and still faces a "tremendous gap in poverty relief funds."
"Even under these circumstances, China is actively participating in her course toward world poverty alleviation and contributing successful experiences. China wants to reflect the international requirement to be a 'responsible great country' through its poverty alleviation efforts. This is part of China's foreign affairs strategy," Liu stated, "Although China's GDP now ranks fourth in the world, the country still has a long way to go in giving large-sized foreign material and capital aid."
Chinese mode of poverty relief
The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development held a press conference on September 28 that focused on an international seminar titled "Taking Action for the World's Poor People". The event was held on October 17 in Beijing.
In September 2000, the United Nations (UN) defined the "Millennium Development Goal" (MDG) in its "United Nations Millennium Declaration". This MDG aims to deal with various issues at different levels and from different angles. All are related -- either directly or indirectly -- to extreme poverty: from economic poverty to famine, health, education, environment and gender issues. The primary goal of the MDG is to "eliminate poverty and famine", while reducing the number of starving people who live on less than one dollar per day to half of the current level from 1990 to 2015.
According to the statistics from the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, the rural poor who don't have enough food and clothing has declined to 21.48 million from 250 million in 1978, with the poverty occurrence rate down to 2.3 percent from 30.7 percent.
Since 1986, the Chinese government has dedicated funds, as much as 14.4 billion yuan (US$1.9 billion), toward development-oriented poverty alleviation focused on improving the labor capabilities of indigent people.
Liu described the core characteristics of Chinese poverty relief mode with the government taking the leading role but also encouraging public participation. "China's development-oriented poverty alleviation work follows an all-around development path of self-reliance," stated Liu on September 28.
On September 25, the "Report on China's Development 2007: Eliminating Poverty Through Development", released by the China Development Research Foundation, suggested that the present rural poverty line no longer reflects the basic needs of rural residents in developing their own capabilities, since the previous poverty line started from the point of maintaining mere survival. Appropriate departments need to conduct research and standardize the poverty line. Basic needs as Medicare and education must be taken into account as well. Authorities expect to establish a new standard in the next 10-year poverty relief plan.
Currently, China's poverty line does not completely conform to the international standard, which says that people living on less than one dollar per day equates with poverty. "Considering the parity value of the Renminbi's internal purchasing power, China's poverty line basically follows the international standard," explained Liu.
"In addition, China needs new mechanisms to encourage donations," said Liu. The founding and management of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are still sensitive issues in China. Founding, operating and gaining public trust in NGOs will promote the development of social charity.
Exporting poverty reduction aid
On October 17, the world welcomed the 15th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. More than 50 countries from Asia, Africa, America, Europe and Oceania sent more than 400 governmental officials, international institutions, non-governmental organizations and scholars to discuss global poverty reduction issues. The topics focused on the "development strategies of countries dedicated toward shaking off poverty and famine", "social policies of macro economies and poverty alleviation strategies", "policies and initiatives to eliminate poverty and famine in different countries and regions", and the "changeable role of different institutions in poverty reduction".
Poverty issues are still severe challenges throughout the world. There are more than 1 billion abjectly poor people living on less than on dollar per day and about 0.8 billion people living either under precarious food conditions or who cannot work and live because of an acute food shortage.
The Chinese government is trying to promote global poverty reduction while simultaneously dealing with its domestic poverty relief issues. China's foreign poverty reduction aid forms part of its foreign affair strategies. This foreign aid presents a favorable impression of China as a "responsible great country" on the international arena, said Liu
(China Development Gateway by Sun Wan October 21, 2007)