Poverty Reduction Strategies in China
Over 68 million people have benefited since 2013 when President Xi Jinping vowed to eradicate poverty in China by 2020. This ambitious goal, if realized, will markedly reduce inequality, leading to greater job creation and sustainable development. The realization of this goal has already had a meaningful impact on social, economic and political levels.

Means to Poverty Eradication

The government has increased funding for poverty reduction, both on national and local levels. Financial institutions have enhanced contributions to increase loans and provide assistance to local projects. By creating strict benchmarks and targets for local institutions, the government has created a means of measuring goals and ensuring wise investments.

The clearly defined goals include investing in food security, education, health and housing, especially in rural areas. Providing easily accessible public services is also a useful way to achieve economic equality. By registering the poor on a national database, the government is able to effectively monitor and implement domestic strategies. This registration system also allows for a more targeted approach.

Through investments in rural infrastructure, agriculture and subsidies, the government is attempting to empower those living in the poorer parts of the nation. Welfare programs especially target the socioeconomically marginalized by using public expenditure to serve them. By making individuals and households the target of welfare schemes, rather than entire villages, the government is aiming to reach out to those who suffer the greatest deprivation and lack of opportunity.

Loans, subsidies and higher wages are economic means by which China plans to create opportunities for local businesses and self-employed individuals. Larger enterprises are also encouraged to invest in smaller businesses and development projects- this will work alongside poverty relief funds granted to farmers.

The Belt Road Initiative is a project that enhances infrastructure connectivity among different countries and continents.

Investing in such infrastructure will, in fact, impact global poverty worldwide. The establishment of the BRICS Development Bank, the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, will benefit the rest of the Global South.

The poverty reduction strategies in China also include the promotion of industrialization and urbanization, which provides poor areas with infrastructures such as roads, electricity and communication technology. Furthermore, China wants to develop tourism in rural areas in order to raise wages and create jobs.

Results of The Poverty Reduction Strategy

China has made great progress in working towards the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by contributing to over 70 percent of poverty reduced around the world. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), China has made great leaps in reducing poverty and reaching the benchmarks laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), lifting more than 500 million of its citizens out of extreme poverty over the last three decades.

Initiatives that allow rural residents to participate in e-commerce for next to no fees are set up to ensure the expansion of businesses and create a more favorable environment for investment. Companies such as Alibaba are also collaborating with the government and the U.N. to provide rural entrepreneurs with a platform to sell their goods online throughout the nation.

Anti-corruption Campaign

China has also launched an anti-corruption campaign that includes removing officials accused of bribery and political interference. By including a broadened definition of bribery and creating a regulatory body to investigate cases, the government has created more stringent systems for detecting and dealing with corruption. The government has rigorously enforced the laws, however, there are concerns about selective enforcement and political motivations guiding the actions.

China’s targeted poverty alleviation strategy has been largely successful thus far. However, it remains to be seen how China will be able to create a sustainable long-term approach to uplifting its citizens. It is necessary to, alongside strategies to enhance economic empowerment, implement measures to establish democratic institutions. The poverty reduction strategies in China are comprehensive and if implemented effectively will allow for the growth of the economy as well as the increase in living standard.

– Isha Kakar
Photo: Flickr

Water Pollution in China is the Country's Largest Environmental Issue
Half of China’s population cannot access water that is safe for human consumption and two-thirds of China’s rural population relies on tainted water. Water pollution in China is such a problem that there could be “catastrophic consequences for future generations,” according to the World Bank.

China’s water supply has been contaminated by the dumping of toxic human and industrial waste. Pollution-induced algae blooms cause the surface of China’s lakes to turn a bright green, but greater problems may lurk beneath the surface; groundwater in 90 percent of China’s cities is contaminated.

China’s coastal manufacturing belt faces the most pollution. Despite the closure of thousands of pollutant sources, a third of the waterway remains well below the government’s modest standards for water quality. Most of China’s rural areas lack a system to treat wastewater.

Water pollution in China has doubled from what the government originally predicted because the impact of agricultural waste was ignored. Farm fertilizer has largely contributed to water contamination. China’s water sources contain toxic of levels of arsenic, fluorine and sulfates, and pollution has been linked to China’s high rates of liver, stomach and esophageal cancer.

Dabo Guan, a professor at the University of East Anglia in Britain, has been studying scarcity and water pollution in China for years. He believes water pollution to be the biggest environmental issue in China, but the public may be unaware of its impact. Air pollution creates pressure from the public on the government because it is visible every day, but underground water pollution is not visible in the cities, causing it to virtually be forgotten.

Water pollution in China stems from the demand for cheap goods; multinational companies ignore their suppliers’ environmental practices. Although China’s development has lifted many out of poverty, it has also sent many others into disease.

Factories are able to freely discharge their wastewater into lakes and rivers due to poor environmental regulations, weak enforcement and local corruption. Rural villages located near factory complexes rely on the contaminated water for drinking, washing and cooking. These villages have become known as “cancer villages” because of their high rates of cancer and death.

In 2011, Greenpeace launched the Detox campaign to publicize the relationship between multinational companies, their suppliers and water pollution in China. The Detox campaign challenges multinational companies to work with their suppliers to eliminate all instances of hazardous chemicals into water sources. Although combating water pollution in China will require much more work, continued efforts from organizations like the Detox campaign provide a beacon of hope for the future of China’s people and environment.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr