Children play in front of their new houses inside a poverty-relief resettlement site .(Photo/Xinhua)
Children play in front of their new houses inside a poverty-relief resettlement site .(Photo/Xinhua)

China proves that it has lifted 100 million people out of poverty

By People’s Daily Online SA Time of article published Aug 31, 2021

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On Feb.25, China declared a "complete victory" in its fight to eradicate absolute poverty.

In specific terms, over the past eight years the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line had all been lifted out of poverty. All 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 villages have also been removed from the poverty list during that time. With absolute poverty eliminated, China has created yet another "miracle" that will "go down in history."

Not surprisingly, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), jumped back into the fray to whine and wrangle about China's success with its one-sided article – entitled "Has China lifted 100 million people out of poverty?" – which was soaked through and through with BBC's "sour grapes mentality."

Has China lifted 100 million people out of poverty? The answer is obvious. Ironclad figures revealed by the Chinese government are enough to provide a definitive answer to this question, though facts are not enough to stop the BBC's unseemly nagging over this issue, which manifests in its staunch demeanor of defaming other countries with whatever set of contrived logical fallacies it can get its hands on.

Here are two of the usual tricks that the BBC often uses to distort facts and concoct lies.

Double standards: everyone can have candy, except for China

According to the World Bank, about 66.3 percent of Chinese people lived below the international poverty line in 1990 while the number slumped to only 0.5 percent in 2016 (the most recent World Bank figure). Figures revealed by the World Bank prove the authenticity of China's statistics.

(Screenshot from the World Bank official website)

Instead of feeling happy for the Chinese people, the BBC has outlined a set of other countries' poverty alleviation work to imply that China's achievement is not as big of a deal since other countries have also had their achievements.

The fact is, the country's reduction in poverty is a big deal for both China and the world. Since adopting the Reform and Opening-up Policy in 1978, 770 million impoverished rural residents have been lifted out of poverty, accounting for more than 70 percent of global poverty reduction. Moreover, at least 10 million people in China have been lifted out of poverty annually for the past seven consecutive years, amounting to the entire population of a middle-sized European country. How could such an impressive number suddenly be reducible to such an easy task achievable by every and any country according to the BBC news?

For years, poverty alleviation has been one of the biggest headaches for a large number of countries, and every country's achievements, no matter how large or small, deserve to be praised. Why have other countries won their plaudits for poverty alleviation but China, the nation that through its efforts provided the largest reduction in absolute poverty worldwide, still remains subjected to unreasonable criticism?

And yet, such a childish trick cannot distort the facts. 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.

If the number is unassailable, then make a fuss about the standard

As a professional media organization, the BBC can always cook up something to create a headline. The BBC claims that China, an upper-middle-income country as categorized by the World Bank, should set its national poverty line at 5.5 U.S. dollars per day, which is among the highest standards for upper-middle-income countries.

Apparently, BBC journalists are adept at storytelling but poor at mathematics. As everyone knows, the income level of a country is defined by its gross national income (GNI) per capita. Even a first-year undergraduate in statistics will know that any average number, which can be easily influenced by extreme outlying values, cannot provide a whole picture of the situation. Otherwise, the World Bank's poverty line is no more than a monetary threshold indicating the typical value of essentials needed to sustain one adult at or above that line. In China, however, the overall situation is quite exceptional, since China has developed a comprehensive, multi-dimensional standard that comprises not only per capita income but also a series of other requirements and supportive criteria.

In addition to net income per capita, China set another criteria called the "two assurances and three guarantees," which stipulates that before being delisted, the rural poor must be completely free from worries over food and clothing and have access to compulsory education, essential medical services, and safe housing. The overall standard is higher than the World Bank's 2015 benchmark of 1.9 U.S. dollars per person per day and is also higher that the UN's Sustainable Development Goals standard.

In many countries, people would be classified as a part of the middle-income class if they were "free from worries over food and clothing and have access to compulsory education, essential medical services, and safe housing."

Incomes are the basic but not the only indicators of China's anti-poverty campaign. While providing a boost to sustaining the incomes of impoverished rural residents, China has moreover implemented a raft of supportive policies, such as relocating people to more habitable areas, to guaranteeing better living conditions and public services for low-income families in rural areas.

Even if China's national poverty line does not in and of itself meet the World Bank's higher standard for upper-middle-income countries, the comprehensive standards reinforcing incomes ensure that rural Chinese residents can enjoy a better life, even when compared with spending only a hard target of 5.5 U.S. dollars per day. When BBC journalists can pinpoint any "flaw", however trivial or fantastical, they are all too eager to jump on the bandwagon to criticize China and deliberately neglect the need to actually dig deeper to discover the truth.

China's achievement in poverty alleviation is an indisputable fact, which embittered words cannot defame. It's high time that media outlets like the BBC set aside their petty games and acknowledge China's contributions to the world. And hopefully, they can join others to draw a few pieces of advice from China’s own experience in poverty alleviation, helping to build a world completely free of poverty.

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