As the raging COVID-19 pandemic is dragging an increasing number of people into poverty across the world, China's poverty alleviation efforts are offering hope.
China's achievements and efforts in fighting poverty have not only contributed to the global cause of poverty reduction, but also set a pioneering example of practical significance to the international community.
In the past seven decades, China has managed to lift 850 million people out of poverty, which accounts for more than 70 percent of global poverty alleviation, setting a record in human history. At the end of 2019, the number of impoverished people in China's rural areas fell to 5.51 million from 98.99 million in 2012.
Furthermore, China is on course to eradicate extreme poverty across the country by 2020, which will make the country the first in the world to end absolute poverty.
Given China's large population, such achievements contributed not only to the global cause of poverty alleviation, but also improved the human rights of the Chinese people.
Ending poverty tops the 17 United Nations (UN) 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. However, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the global response to realizing poverty and environmental goals agreed by world leaders in 2015 has not been "ambitious enough," and it would be very difficult to bring the rate of extreme poverty below 3 percent by 2030. Even worse, the UN has predicted that the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic would cause an increasing number of people to fall into poverty.
Will China's path help the world lessen global worries over poverty? The answer is yes. If eradicating poverty can be achieved in such a big and formerly impoverished country like China, other countries are hopeful they can do it as well.
Poverty alleviation is a "microcosm" of China's development, as it demonstrates how the country's system actually works on the ground, said Robert Lawrence Kuhn, a leading U.S. expert on China and chairman of the Kuhn Foundation.
China's experience has also shown that the poverty alleviation cause must be based on one country's own national conditions and entails practical actions and the involvement of the whole society.
To maximize poverty alleviation results, Beijing has arranged different funds and customized support according to different situations in villages and families.
International engagement has also played a key role in China's poverty alleviation cause.
International organizations including the United Nations Development Programme and the World Food Programme have supported China, and China also played an active role in global cooperation, offering much help to other countries' poverty-reduction efforts via providing material, financial aid or personnel support.
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has praised China's national development and success in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, saying it was integral to global gains in the field.
As always, unilateralism and protectionism pose a stumbling block in the global cause of poverty reduction. The world should remain sober and realize that only through open cooperation can we embrace common development, which is the fundamental way to wipe out poverty.
Meanwhile, extreme poverty is not about a lack of income alone, or faults of individuals or families, said Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. "It's about political choices that exclude, discriminate and marginalize people," he said.
China's poverty reduction efforts will never end as alleviating poverty in all forms still remains a long-term cause for the whole world. Thus it is indispensable for countries to tackle this common challenge facing humanity with strong political wills, targeted policies and close international cooperation.