Reflections on 2020 – Dr Xisu Wang

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As promised and planned, China announced last week that it has brought its last 70 million people out of absolute poverty, an amazing achievement in 2020.

According to my old friend, Dr Xisu Wang, “a client of mine accompanied President Xi on a visit to the poorest woman in her 80s in his neighbourhood. The only modern device in her house was an electric lamp. No radio or television. She did not recognize Xi. She broke down into tears when she was told this man was the “Chairman Mao of today.” Mao was remembered as a saviour of the disadvantaged. 

It was in that village that Xi decided to start a five-year campaign against poverty. The goal was to secure the basic needs in food, clothing, housing, education and medical care for the absolute poor.  

China had rural support programs. Counties vied to be branded as poverty-stricken so as to be eligible for Government relief. It was reported that people swarmed into the streets to celebrate with fire-crackers when their county was identified as such.  

This time it’s different. Local Governments have recorded each and every poor household with detailed information re. income, cause and the support required, and took specific action to address it.  Childless seniors or those unable to work for physical reasons are provided for by the Government.  Training programs are offered to those who lack working skills. Those living in uninhabitable regions are moved to newly-built residences and given jobs or land.   

Every village has been linked to electricity, communication and educational networks. State-owned conglomerates and Government agencies have created new businesses and job opportunities in assigned areas.

A seemingly impossible mission has been completed! It is seen both as a landmark and a fresh start for the next stage of development. However, there are still 600 million people who live on less than RMB1,000 per month. China will continue its effort to narrow income disparities, which is believed to be a major cause of social unrest and disharmony”. 

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