By Godfree Roberts – selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China plus editorial notes. You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe
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Battle Against Poverty
Xi declares 'complete victory' in eradicating absolute poverty in China
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Thursday that China has secured a "complete victory" in its fight against poverty.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said absolute poverty has been eradicated in the world's most populous country, home to over 1.4 billion people.
Xi made the announcement while addressing a grand gathering held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to mark the nation's poverty alleviation accomplishments and honor model poverty fighters.
With absolute poverty eliminated, China has created another "miracle" that will "go down in history," Xi said in a televised speech.
The high-profile event was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang and attended by other senior Party leaders Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng — all members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee — and Vice President Wang Qishan.
Under Xi's leadership, China launched a monumental anti-poverty campaign on a scale unseen anywhere in the world.
Over the past eight years, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line have all been lifted out of poverty. All 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 villages have also been removed from the poverty list.
The country has met the poverty eradication target set out in the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule.
Combined with poverty-reduction results since the late 1970s, China is responsible for over 70 percent of the global reduction in poverty over the period, World Bank statistics have shown.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged the success of China's anti-poverty campaign over the past few years, calling it "the most important contribution" to the global poverty reduction cause.
"No country has been able to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in such a short time," Xi said.
At Thursday's gathering, Xi presented medals, certificates and plaques to role models from the country's anti-poverty fight. He also joined other Chinese leaders in presenting awards to individuals and groups for their outstanding achievements in the fight against penury.
The recipients include villagers, Party members dispatched to villages to fight poverty, grassroots officials and college researchers. Some of them were honored posthumously.
Shi Jintong, a village Party chief in central China's Hunan Province, accepted an award on behalf of his village. Shi's village — Shibadong — is where Xi, during a visit in 2013, put forward the "targeted poverty alleviation" strategy that was instrumental in the success of China's poverty eradication campaign.
"I feel so honored to meet the general secretary again, yet I am confident at the same time as we have accomplished the task of poverty eradication," Shi said.
But not all of China's anti-poverty champions lived to see this day.
Over the past eight years, more than 1,800 people died fighting poverty on the front lines.
Xi acknowledged these fallen heroes at Thursday's event, saying that their sacrifice and contributions "will never be forgotten by the Party, the people and the republic."
Summarizing China's experience in conquering poverty, Xi said the country has blazed a poverty reduction trail and formed an anti-poverty theory with Chinese characteristics.
He underlined the role of Party leadership, which has provided a "political and organizational guarantee" for China's poverty alleviation efforts.
Poverty relief work has been led by the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC with its 90 million members. Party chiefs at all levels were required to assume the primary responsibility for achieving the campaign's ambitious targets. Over 3 million public sector officials were sent from cities and towns to villages to fight poverty "on the front lines."
Funds were channeled to assist the fight. Nearly 1.6 trillion yuan (about US$246 billion) of fiscal funds have been invested into poverty alleviation over the past eight years.
China also leveraged the political advantage of its socialist system, which can bring together the needed resources to accomplish great tasks. This enabled massive programs, such as those pairing up better-off provinces with others in need to tackle poverty.
The country's strategy of targeted poverty alleviation was also highlighted.
Xi said poverty eradication is an important embodiment of the Party's fundamental purpose of "whole-heartedly serving the people."
"Ending poverty, improving people's well-being and realizing common prosperity are the essential requirements of socialism," Xi said.
Building on its victory in eradicating poverty, China is moving on to push for higher-level development in its rural areas.
Shaking off poverty is not the finish line, but the starting point of a new life and new endeavor, Xi said in the speech, demanding efforts to consolidate poverty alleviation achievements and initiate a dovetailing drive of "rural vitalization."
The rural vitalization strategy was proposed as a key move for the development of a modernized economy at the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017.
More detailed plans of the strategy were unveiled in the Party leadership's proposals for formulating an economic and social development plan for the 2021-2025 period and long-term goals through the year 2035.
China on Thursday inaugurated a new Cabinet body on promoting rural vitalization, which was transformed from the State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development.
In his speech, Xi said efforts must be made to prevent any large-scale relapse into poverty, and identifying solutions to problems concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers must be the top priority of the Party's work.
"China will attach greater importance to the pursuit of common prosperity," he said.
Of course, the empire cannot accept this as a triumph. According to the Indian commentator, Maitreya Bhakal, the empire is in the five stages of grief.
Western media’s five stages of grief at China’s poverty eradication success
Opinion 08:48, 01-Mar-2021 CGTN
Western media's five stages of grief at China's poverty eradication success
Editor's note: Maitreya Bhakal is an Indian commentator who writes about China, India, U.S. and global issues. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
The West sees itself as rich and numero uno. If other nations wish to live long and prosper, they must become obedient to the U.S. This takes myriad forms – ranging from oil suppliers like Saudi Arabia to permanent aircraft carriers like Japan.
China refuses to be subservient. So the U.S. seeks to dominate it. Propaganda remains a key vector in its strategy of hybrid war. Every Chinese misfortune is celebrated, every failure criticized disproportionately and every success downplayed.
When China recently announced the eradication of absolute poverty, the propaganda machine swung into action. The anti-China propaganda showed signs of the standard five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Denial and anger
The first step, as with any success in China, was to simply lie about it. They questioned whether China had really eradicated poverty. They gleefully pointed out that China's poverty line was lower than that of the World Bank, thus portraying China's success as the illegitimate result of statistical manipulation. This was the same tactic used to deny China's COVID-19 success by questioning its statistics.
Yet, the World Bank itself states that "a country's national poverty line is far more appropriate for underpinning policy dialogue or targeting programs to reach the poorest." Moreover, income is not the only indicator of poverty; access to healthcare, housing, education, electricity and other public services is equally important. The World Bank admits that its poverty line "does not currently take these multiple dimensions of poverty into account." China's poverty alleviation program targets all these factors, but that was relatively ignored by the haters.
This again had echoes in their COVID-19 propaganda, when they had similarly downplayed China's strict lockdown measures (only to change their minds when people in their own countries started dying). One expert quoted in the New York Times questioned, "But I don't know if it's sustainable... Have they really contained the virus? Or have they just suppressed it?" This was the day after Wuhan had reported just one COVID-19 case.
The parallels were uncanny: The Telegraph claimed earlier this week that China's poverty eradication efforts were not "sustainable" and that China was "simply kicking the problem down the road."
Children hold lambs in Pumaqangtang Township of Nagarze County in Shannan, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, April 15, 2020. /Xinhua
Another tactic was simply cherry picking facts – anything to lessen their grief. Thus, with 100 million people lifted out of poverty in the last eight years, they found the handful of people who were somewhat less better off than others, portraying those exceptional cases as representative examples.
"Not all poor people are feeling better off," declared the LA Times, another Sinophobic U.S. propaganda outlet. "Xi Jinping's war drives some to riches, but leaves others behind," brayed AFP.
Yet, you can always find some exceptions to everything if you look hard enough. People looking for exceptions generally end up finding them (and if not, they can always be invented). But for Western media, every rule has exceptions, and those exceptions make the rules.
A second tactic of bargaining was to point out the cost of China's poverty eradication. The New York Times predicted with authority (presumably the same authority with which it once predicted weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) that China may "struggle to sustain" its anti-poverty drive. This was again a lazy rehash of its COVID-19 propaganda, where it had once proclaimed "China may be beating the coronavirus, at a painful cost" early last year.
Depression and acceptance
Any good news from China makes the West highly depressed. After centuries of trying to contain China, whether by gunboats or opium smuggling or economic sanctions, it is understandably difficult to see Chinese lives improving. Thus, perhaps the most significant achievement in human economic history – the elimination of poverty for nearly 100 million people – receives less attention in their "free" media than say, a single court case in Hong Kong.
Acceptance will be even harder. Many in the West believe that their "democracy" is the only legitimate political system for all nations. Any acceptance – let alone admiration – of China's successes would require admitting that China's socialist system represents not only an alternative, but perhaps a better one; that China achieved in a few decades what the West took centuries of imperialist wealth hoarding to accomplish. [And which in most capitalist nations, inluding the US—mired in unemployment, homelessness and other intractable ills, the goal is still still far from fulfilled.—Ed.] It would require admitting that maybe one size does not fit all.
The contrast between America and China today couldn't be starker. While America resembles a nation it just invaded – with people dropping dead by the thousands every day (only due to a disease this time instead of a bomb) – and while real wages for most U.S. workers have stagnated for decades, Chinese people's lives keep getting better. And that's a tough pill for Western supremacists to swallow.
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Editorial comment 1: At the Saker Blog, we’ve noticed and have been discussing in various articles, Russia’s new hard line diplomacy vis a vis Europe, as well as the US. We see the same trajectory from China, yet it is different. Here are two examples of the discernible new language from China. This seems to be a language that is changing on a basis of reciprocity. If China is accused of human rights violations, they reciprocate exactly. In example one, they are writing a report on US human rights violations. In example two, they tweet examples of human rights violations.
Example 1 : China’s upcoming report on US human rights violations shows 2020 ‘a declining point’ of American democracy
Example 2 –
This is shocking. What a poor couple. What a poor girl. The US is staging a humanitarian disaster. Officials should go to jail for such a tragedy. It’s a national humiliation for the US to allow this happen. pic.twitter.com/OZ7A9lKnmL
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) March 2, 2021
Editorial comment 2 – The Taiwanese Pineapple Fight.
On this issue, we see an iron fist from China, very directly aimed at the western influenced Taiwanese agitators. Taiwan grows pineapples, very many pineapples, tons of them. And they of course sell them to China. China quarantined Taiwanese pineapple imports into mainland China and gently told them to eat their own pineapples. This is equal to what they did with Australian wines and now the South African winemakers have taken over this market niche.
These are small steps and in two tiny market segments, but it does look like the time that anyone could dismiss and insult China, may be brought to an end.
This is a early trend that we should take notice of, where countries and parties are going to have to take real responsibility for their very own words and actions. Very similar to Russia’s latest stance, no?
Back to the Here Comes China Newsletter:
We have a fascinating article that is titled: “Jack Ma is not the problem“, from the Qiau Collective.
Chinese blogger Li Xuran offers a compelling analysis of the role of capital in modern China. The halting of Ant’s bombshell IPO in November 2020, Li argues, must be seen in the context of the socialist state’s role in restraining the “wild beast” of capital for the sake of socialist development and the public good.
More than taking note of this one very nuanced article, it is worth looking at the other writings on the Qiau Collective, which calls itself: “Qiao Collective is a diaspora Chinese media collective challenging U.S. aggression on China. ”
From western questioners, the general view on China is that everyone is walking around in fear that their next words are going to put them at odds with the censor and that everyone is being controlled. Take a look at this magazine, and the specific link is interesting. Did you know that China has New Age Hippies?
This is but a fraction of what I gleaned from the Here Comes China newsletter. If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe
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