Practical Significance of Up and out of poverty
Poverty alleviation has always been a hard, thought-provoking topic.
Why? China’s second-generation CPC leadership with Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997) at the core developed a “three-step” development strategy: The first was to shake off poverty in the 1980s, the second was to promote better living standards in the 1990s, and the final step was to realize socialist modernization within 50 years after entering the 21st Century.
This became the general strategy for the whole country. Targets, tasks, and indicators differed for different regions due to different circumstances. In general, it was extremely difficult for underdeveloped areas to catch up by following the same strategy. Eastern Fujian, where Xi Jinping worked, was a poverty-stricken area. His two years there represented the last two for the country to shake off the final remnants of poverty. Could that part of the country grow as fast as other part of China? Ultimately, they succeeded: In 1990, eastern Fujian scored above the poverty threshold. How did they do it? The answers can be found in a book. “The title is Up and Out of Poverty,” Xi illustrated. “Its significance is first and foremost to uproot outdated ‘poverty mentality’ and ‘poverty thinking.’ We must eradicate the ‘poverty’ that exists in our minds before we can eradicate it in regions we govern. We must enrich our minds before we can help the people and nation out of poverty and onto the road to prosperity.”
“But I advocate action,” he stressed. “Practice trumps knowledge because practice is based on action. Instead of fearing saying the wrong thing, we should worry about suffering from ‘poverty mentality’ that prevents us from envisioning bolder ways to implement reform and opening up. Instead of fearing doing the wrong thing, we should worry about eliminating the bankrupt mindsets that block us from taking stronger action to conduct reform and opening up.”
Under his leadership, eastern Fujian caught up with other parts of the country and leapt out of poverty. Doing so required all residents to free their minds, seek truth from facts and act—reform and open up.
In the book, Xi Jinping revealed his strategic thinking. Ultimately, only development will make any difference, which became the key driver of his work in eastern Fujian to help it catch up with other parts of the country and reach the second-step goal set by Deng Xiaoping. With China in the primary stage of socialism, its core problem is inadequately meeting the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people. Therefore, it imperative to keep economic development as the country’s central task.
Xiang Nan, first secretary of the Fujian CPC Provincial Committee, penned the foreword for Up and Out of Poverty. “The strongest feature of Xi Jinping’s writing from this period is that it never strays from the focus of economic development,” Xiang observed. In the book, Xi clearly expressed that the only way to prosper and strengthen a nation is to encourage all people to take economic construction as the top goal.
After reading it, I was sure that Up and Out of Poverty was an important work because it continues to serve as a practical and farreaching guide.