Na­tion’s poverty re­lief ef­forts bear­ing ripe fruit

Gov­ern­ment mea­sures im­prove lives in ru­ral ar­eas

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By CHINA DAILY

In­creased poverty re­lief ef­forts, along with bet­ter ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture, means that mil­lions of ru­ral poor in China can now ac­cess safe drink­ing water, move out of un­safe hous­ing and re­ceive bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion and med­i­cal care.

Ac­cord­ing to the State Coun­cil Lead­ing Group Of­fice of Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment, in the past five years, 14 mil­lion peo­ple have gained ac­cess to safe drink­ing water, and the homes of 7 mil­lion poor fam­i­lies have been ren­o­vated.

Dur­ing this time, some 970,000 ru­ral schools have re­ceived ex­tra gov­ern­ment fund­ing, and 4.2 mil­lion poor pa­tients have been treated promptly.

This year marks the fifth year since Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping put for­ward the con­cept of tar­geted poverty al­le­vi­a­tion dur­ing a field in­spec­tion in an im­pov­er­ished vil­lage in Hu­nan prov­ince.

The coun­try has de­vel­oped its own mea­sures to com­bat poverty, and these were sum­ma­rized at the In­ter­na­tional Fo­rum on Re­form and Open­ing Up and Poverty Re­duc­tion in China, which opened in Bei­jing on Thurs­day.

The mea­sures in­clude: a tar­geted ap­proach, which calls for meth­ods to be tai­lored to lo­cal con­di­tions; the par­tic­i­pa­tion of en­ter­prises and non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions in the gov­ern­ment-led fight; and the in­clu­sion of poverty re­lief jobs in lo­cal gov­ern­ments’ an­nual as­sess­ments.

The way in which poverty has been al­le­vi­ated through these mea­sures can be seen in a 600-square-meter work­shop at a glove fac­tory in Xin­tiaohe vil­lage of Ji­ax­i­ang county, Shan­dong prov­ince.

Late last month, nearly 200 women sat be­hind rows of sew­ing ma­chines, mak­ing sports gloves.

“This fac­tory pro­duced 300,000 pairs of gloves last year. The num­ber of gloves we pro­duce here has in­creased in re­cent years, pro­vid­ing steady in­come for lo­cal work­ers,” said Jiang Haiy­ing, who is in charge of the plant.

The fac­tory is one of more than 200 in Ji­ax­i­ang. Over 30 years, the county has be­come the coun­try’s largest pro­ducer and ex­porter of sports gloves.

Ji­ax­i­ang pro­duces more than 70 mil­lion pairs of gloves an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to the county’s glove in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion. These are mainly sports gloves used for ski­ing, hunt­ing and shoot­ing.

The county ac­counts for just over 76 per­cent of China’s sports glove ex­ports, and its gloves have been sold to more than 30 coun­tries and re­gions, in­clud­ing Europe, Ja­pan and the United States.

The in­dus­try, which is la­bor in­ten­sive, has proved to be an ef­fi­cient way to lift farm­ers out of poverty, said Chen Jian­hua, head of the county’s glove in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion and chair­man of Jian­hua Zhongx­ing Glove In­dus­try Group, the largest sports glove man­u­fac­turer and ex­porter in Ji­ax­i­ang.

At the Xin­tiaohe fac­tory, the women’s wages vary ac­cord­ing to their out­put — from 1,500 to 5,000 yuan ($218 to $727), Jiang of the fac­tory said.

“This is a de­cent in­come for farm­ers. The most im­por­tant thing is they don’t need to leave home to work as mi­grants,” she said.

Chen is happy to see how the in­dus­try is im­prov­ing farm­ers’ lives.

“Ten years ago, dozens of buses would come to our county af­ter Spring Fes­ti­val to take hun­dreds of women to work in cities in the south. It was heart­break­ing to see el­derly peo­ple and chil­dren see­ing these women off, with tears in their eyes,” he said.

Ji­ax­i­ang has about 700 small work­shops in nearly 600 vil­lages, ac­count­ing for more than 80 per­cent of the vil­lages in the county. These work­shops have cre­ated jobs for 50,000 farm­ers, ac­cord­ing to the county gov­ern­ment, and the glove in­dus­try has lifted 260 fam­i­lies out of poverty.

Li Xian­qing’s left leg is par­a­lyzed due to po­lio, which he con­tracted when he was 2. The 53-year-old now runs a glove pro­duc­tion com­pany that pro­duced 600,000 pairs last year. About 90 per­cent of his gloves are sold over­seas, he said.

Li’s com­pany has pro­vided jobs for about 50 phys­i­cally chal­lenged work­ers.

At an in­dus­trial park in the county that spe­cial­izes in glove man­u­fac­tur­ing, a bar­rier-free fac­tory has been built in line with stan­dards set by the China Dis­abled Per­sons’ Fed­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing a park­ing lot, toi­lets and an­ti­skid ramps.

To en­able phys­i­cally chal­lenged farm­ers to mas­ter skills, the county fre­quently or­ga­nizes train­ing ses­sions for them and has pro­vided jobs for more than 40 farm­ers.

Tak­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, the county’s glove in­dus­try has ex­tended to Kash­gar, Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, bring­ing wealth to more peo­ple.

In 2015, the Jian­hua Zhongx­ing Glove In­dus­try Group built a branch in Kash­gar, which has pro­vided jobs for more than 2,000 lo­cals.

“The Xin­jiang pro­duc­tion base not only pro­vides us with a more con­ve­nient and ef­fi­cient route to ex­port our gloves, but jobs for lo­cal peo­ple,” Chen said.

With the 2022 Win­ter Olympics be­ing held in China, or­ders have in­creased and have kept the work­ers busy.

“The abun­dance of skilled, ex­pe­ri­enced work­ers is im­por­tant for the glove pro­duc­tion in­dus­try,” Chen added.

A good worker needs at least two years’ ex­pe­ri­ence. The tini­est flaw can re­sult in a cus­tomer can­cel­ing an or­der, so ex­pe­ri­enced farm­ers are val­ued highly by com­pa­nies, he said.

Great changes

Mean­while, a re­tired Euro­pean po­lice of­fi­cer is liv­ing a happy life while help­ing farm­ers to es­cape from poverty in a poor vil­lage in Hechi, Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

Nico Rene Hansen, 58, who is from Lux­em­bourg, said great changes have taken place af­ter more than four months of hard work in the moun­tain­ous vil­lage of Zhadong.

The pas­sion fruit vines he planted with vil­lagers are now grow­ing well and all the fruit has been sold on­line, which will help the vil­lagers to in­crease their in­comes, Hansen said.

Lo­cated in the city’s Yizhou dis­trict, Zhadong ad­min­is­ters 14 smaller vil­lages and com­prises 600 vil­lagers from 180 house­holds. Of these, 101 fam­i­lies with 304 farm­ers are poverty-stricken.

“Six of the smaller vil­lages still had no high­ways when I ar­rived in the vil­lage four months ago,” Hansen said.

“Now high­way con­struc­tion for five of the six smaller vil­lages has been com­pleted, link­ing them to other parts of Guangxi and the rest of the coun­try.

“Con­struc­tion of a high­way to the re­main­ing small vil­lage will be com­pleted be­fore the end of the year,” he said.

Hansen was at­tracted to Yizhou by its beau­ti­ful scenery and folk songs in the Chi­nese movie Liu San­jie, about an Yizhou na­tive of the same name who was known as the queen of lo­cal folk songs.

He used to live a leisurely life in Yizhou’s ur­ban ar­eas, walk­ing his dog and hav­ing cof­fee in bars.

But Hansen said he was shocked when he was taken to Zhadong for the first time in March when the vil­lage Party chief, Xie Wanju, sought vol­un­teers to help vil­lagers plant pas­sion fruit vines.

The nat­u­ral scenery is very beau­ti­ful, but the vil­lagers who re­mained were liv­ing very poor lives when most of the young peo­ple left to work else­where, Hansen said.

Zhadong vil­lagers did not even have a road where they could ride their mo­tor­cy­cles. Many had to carry their agri­cul­tural prod­ucts on their shoul­ders as they walked for sev­eral hours to bazaars to sell them, Hansen said.

Farm­ers could not trans­port their pro­duce out of their vil­lage to sell due to the poor in­fra­struc­ture at the time, he said, adding, “Zhadong lagged far be­hind the vil­lages in Lux­em­bourg.”

On re­cent week­days, Hansen has been to the vil­lage with other vol­un­teers led by Xie to plant pas­sion fruit, and to build and re­pair roads and water con­ser­va­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

Wei Yongyuan, a Zhadong of­fi­cial, said Hansen is hon­est, hard­work­ing and kind­hearted. He has been well ac­cepted by many vil­lagers and has en­cour­aged lo­cals to work hard to es­cape from poverty.

Wei quoted some vil­lagers as say­ing: “Even a for­eigner works hard to help us be­come rich. Do we still have any rea­son to con­tinue to be lazy.”

Hansen added, “It is mean­ing­ful to be able to help the vil­lagers out of poverty, and to be happy to live in such a beau­ti­ful place.”

Live­stock boost

In the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, res­i­dents’ lives in the Over­seas Chi­nese Vil­lage in Kariz town­ship, Qi­tai county, have been im­prov­ing steadily.

This progress was achieved af­ter the Over­seas Chi­nese Of­fice of the State Coun­cil and over­seas Chi­nese of­fices at ev­ery level in the re­gion took tar­geted mea­sures in 2014 to al­le­vi­ate poverty.

In the past two years alone, the Over­seas Chi­nese Of­fice of the State Coun­cil has in­vested more than 1.6 mil­lion yuan to build six new breed­ing cen­ters, each oc­cu­py­ing more than 300 square me­ters, in the vil­lage. It has also bought each house­hold seven ewes to help them de­velop their live­stock breed­ing busi­ness and in­crease their an­nual in­comes.

All house­holds are en­cour­aged to be­come share­hold­ers in a co­op­er­a­tive es­tab­lished to help them im­prove their lives and es­cape from poverty. Vil­lagers are al­lowed a share of a year-end bonus, which the co­op­er­a­tive has promised to pro­vide with at least 50 per­cent of its prof­its.

To in­crease em­ploy­ment, gov­ern­ment de­part­ments have opened train­ing cour­ses for lo­cal women to learn tra­di­tional em­broi­dery, and the vil­lage has es­tab­lished an em­broi­dery as­so­ci­a­tion.

“Poverty al­le­vi­a­tion ef­forts have achieved re­sults, as the vil­lage can now de­velop by re­ly­ing on its own in­dus­tries and pro­duc­tion, and lo­cal res­i­dents’ lives have in­creas­ingly im­proved in the past year,” said Yan Xiang­sheng, Party chief of Kariz.

Zheng Caix­iong, Zhao Ruixue, Li Lei, Mao Wei­hua and Shi Ruipeng con­trib­uted to this story.

in mid-Au­gust, many African of­fi­cials said agri­cul­ture and in­fra­struc­ture are key ar­eas with po­ten­tial for co­op­er­a­tion.

Em­manuel Fred­die Mu­gunga, un­der­sec­re­tary of sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion in Uganda, said dur­ing the tour, “We have lots of young peo­ple with lots of ideas, but they do not have the work­places with shared fa­cil­i­ties where they can go and con­cen­trate and do things and get taught new skills.”

He called for in­creased co­op­er­a­tion in train­ing young engi­neers, sci­en­tists and en­trepreneurs.

Liu Kun con­trib­uted to this story.

Con­tact the writ­ers at xin­wen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

LIANG HONGYAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Nico Rene Hansen, from Lux­em­bourg, trims pas­sion fruit vines in Zhadong vil­lage of Hechi in the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, with the vil­lage Party chief Xie Wanju. Pas­sion fruit is play­ing a key role in lead­ing lo­cal res­i­dents out of poverty.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Nico Rene Hansen shares his thoughts on poverty al­le­vi­a­tion ef­forts with vil­lagers dur­ing a dis­cus­sion held by vil­lage Party chief Xie Wanju in Zhadong vil­lage in the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

WANG ZHUANGFEI / CHINA DAILY

Guests talk be­tween ses­sions of the In­ter­na­tional Fo­rum on Re­form and Open­ing Up and Poverty Re­duc­tion in China, which opened in Bei­jing on Thurs­day.

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