China has published a white paper promoting its success in alleviating poverty and says it can offer lessons for the rest of the world.
Beijing released a 30,000-word document on Tuesday called Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution “to record the course of the Chinese people’s great fight in eliminating extreme poverty, introduce China’s approach and share its experiences and actions in poverty alleviation”.
It also promoted the benefits of the country’s signature international infrastructure policy, the Belt and Road Initiative, saying it could help other countries in their own fight against poverty.
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Earlier this year the country officially declared that it had achieved complete success in eliminating extreme poverty, lifting 850 million people out of destitution over the past four decades, and hailed it as an accomplishment unmatched by any nation in modern history.
The white paper said China’s experiences “would serve as a reference for other countries to choose a suitable path of poverty alleviation, and offer China’s approach to solving the problem of modern national governance and creating brighter prospects for social progress”.
The report comes as Beijing is at loggerheads with the West over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and tries to counter criticisms by focusing on its successes in other areas such as poverty eradication and fighting Covid-19.
The paper also reflects the Communist Party’s confidence in its approach to addressing crises and long-term problems, and says the country has taken an active role in global poverty management.
It said the Belt and Road Initiative will “help eligible countries better achieve poverty alleviation” and added: “According to a World Bank study, the initiative will help 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million out of moderate poverty.”
The paper continued that the country had adopted a targeted approach to poverty alleviation by identifying those in need of help, applying tailor-made support and adopting follow-up procedures to help them stay out of poverty.
Wu Qiang, a Beijing-based political scientist and former lecturer with Tsinghua University, said highlighting its poverty alleviation programme was Beijing’s answer to the growing international backlash over its record in Xinjiang, where it is accused of detaining a million mainly Uygur Muslims in reeducation camps and using forced labour.
“Poverty alleviation is at the centre of China’s human rights policies and external propaganda to face down Western criticism, especially on the Xinjiang issue,” said Wu.
He said eradicating poverty would strengthen the party leadership and the paper was also designed to persuade the rest of the world to accept how the party governs the country.
Cui Liru, a former president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said China could share the lessons about what anti-poverty initiatives work with developing countries.
“We are offering experience, not a governance model. We introduce our knowledge in eliminating poverty, which is also advocated by the UN,” he said.
The paper also said China has offered help to over 160 countries in reducing poverty, including joint projects with Southeast Asian countries and training programmes.
It has also helped African countries to build water conservation infrastructure, vocational and technical schools and shared crop plantation technology.
Cui said it was possible that the US and its allies will try to “smear” China over these projects “but the truth will come out eventually”.
“The key is how the recipient countries view China’s experiences,” he said.
The report noted that other countries were facing “different national conditions and at different stages of development”, so they needed to adopt different approaches.
Niu Haibin, deputy director of the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said China was not encouraging other countries to blindly copy its experiences.
“China has the will to offer its experience and reference on how to develop. It is willing to intensify global cooperation and beef up financial aid, but it also pays attention to knowledge sharing,” Niu said.
“The US has tended to interpret China’s policies or white papers from the perspective of China-US rivalry. However, while it is criticising China and raising the issue of debt traps in [belt and road] projects, it is also trying to launch its own version. It is learning from China”.
Additional reporting by Rachel Zhang and Amber Wang
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