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Guizhou maps the way forward to relieve poverty

By Zhao Huanxin and Yang Jun ( China Daily )

Updated: 2016-03-08

Guizhou province, which has more people living below the poverty line than any other, is fighting an uphill battle to help its remaining 5 million impoverished residents rise, national legislators from the southwestern province said on Monday.

"Poverty relief is the most pressing issue for Guizhou, and it weighs heavily on my mind," said Chen Min'er, a National People's Congress deputy and the province's top leader.

This is partly because of the abject level of poverty that haunts the remaining poor, Chen said.

"In this final phase of poverty reduction, the work has become harder and harder," Chen told reporters after a panel discussion during the ongoing annual session of the country's top legislature in Beijing.

During the past five years, the mountainous province has lifted 6.56 million people out of poverty.

By the end of last year, the number living in dire straits plummeted to just under 5 million, according to Chen.

The central government has pledged to get 70 million people living below the poverty line out of their difficult circumstances by 2020. The poverty line is 2,300 yuan ($365) in annual income, measured in 2010 value.

Chen said he remained confident about facing the tasks ahead.

He said his positive outlook comes from the province's poverty alleviation experience so far, combined with the "targeted poverty-relief policies" of the central government.

One in three residents used to live below the poverty line in Guizhou, but today the rate has shrunk to 14.3 percent, which is a great feat, he said.

As some people have yet to be weaned from dependence on government financial assistance, Long Changchun, another legislator, said that in addition to providing funds, it is equally important to kindle a strong desire among the poor to pursue better lives.

Guizhou maps the way forward to relieve poverty

"We found that in Qiandongnan, the southeastern part of Guizhou, 93.8 percent of the people mired in poverty have a high-school education," Long said.

"They can be guided to pursue a better life for themselves."

Governor Sun Zhigang said Guizhou must resettle 1.3 million rural poor now living in inhospitable areas, to places with better infrastructure and ecology.

Li Min, vice-chairman of the standing committee of the provincial people's congress, said that to crack the hard nuts, Guizhou needs to undertake compound measures, such as transferring the poor to more profitable industries and providing medical aid for the needy.

With this approach, the number of people who really have to be lifted out of poverty through providing pensions will shrink to 1.6 million, he said.

Contact the writer at zhaohuanxin@chinadaily.com.cn

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