Fighting Extreme Poverty: Lessons from China’s Poverty Eradication Initiative

By Balongoofu Daniel

The world bank under the poverty and inequality Platform (PIP) as of march 2023 assessed global poverty from a period of 2020 with special focus on the global south that to a larger extent is victimized by this catastrophe. The prevailing data collected from nations with functional grid systems that track levels of poverty indicate that the global head count ratio increased by 0.1 percent to 8.5 percent resulting into a revision in the number of people living in extreme poverty from 648 million to 659 million additionally from south Asia with about 5 million people, The middle east and North Africa contributing 4 million people resulting into an increase of about 11 million people living in extreme poverty hence forth.

Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the provisional data indicates that the global head count ratio as of march 2023 stands at about 86.4 percent and the number of poor people estimated to be about 969 million. This speaks volumes of what needs to be done to check these sharp rising poverty trends especially in this part of the world.

This to occur, countries in Global South may have to learn from other countries where the war against poverty has been successful. For example, picking from China, a self-established model in poverty eradication, African countries can learn more on how to successfully contain poverty. Arguably, China is of a great lesson to the global south and Sub-Saharan Africa in this fight that the nation evolved from a history not alien to the prevailing social-political and economic structure of the sub-Saharan region. Right from atrocities being war torn by both civil wars, the fight against colonialism, food insecurity and a big growing population with limited resources at the time. The nation embarked on a long journey of strategic self-transformation and creating of opportunities that have made it the worlds production hub and the second largest economy.

In February of 2021, president Xi announced that extreme poverty had been eradicated in the nation in what he termed as a miracle. He announced that; “Through combined efforts of the whole party and the entire nation, China has secured a complete victory in its fight against poverty in this important year”.

The unification of China by the CPC in 1949 followed major land reforms that the government under took as the first measure. It should be noted that the period during the 30-year long wars characterized with both civil and fights against the Japanese colonialists at the time which followed a complete institutional and national break down by fighting war lords who divided the nation into territories and taxed the people to fund their wars hence contributing to the acute levels of poverty. The land reforms saw the elimination of the first major institutional obstacle since the state retained exclusive rights to the land that later saw investment in improved farmlands irrigation which gave the peasants modern farming trainings and employment. The land reform also saw a redistribution of land to peasants and tenants who then acquired land which encouraged wide scale agricultural production through cooperatives later in 1953.  The government as well heavily invested in rural education, medical services as major roots and basis that the current 27 trillion dollars economy inherits.

Later during 1978, China registered great success over the poverty elimination fight under the central collective leadership of president Deng Xiaoping that declared poverty as not being socialism therefore the party undertook efforts here to liberalize the Chinese market through opening it up for foreign direct investments and commercial production. This attracted investors with huge capitals that drastically promoted value addition on the locally produced agricultural produce of which the huge population provided a ready market necessary for-profit maximization.

It should be noted that the government as well took strategic reforms to accord the high-tech state-owned enterprises that drove the of value addition initially a level of autonomy that they were to compete with other private enterprises, determine production and supply and drive reinvestment of the profits accumulated. This strategically introduced the capitalistic traits of profit maximization hence gradually abandoning the socialistic home-based production. This resulted into a massive average GDP growth of about 8.2 percent per year on average between 1978 and 2020.therefore as a result, on average there were 18.7 fewer poor people in China since 1978 hence the miracle that president Xi highlighted in his victory speech.

China’s fight against corruption is commendable and cannot be ignored while addressing the fight against poverty. It should be noted that this cancer has greatly undermined the gains of economic development especially in sub–Saharan Africa therefore the global south aught to borrow a leaf from China’s defeat of this vice. From the 1970s when China begun to carry out the policy reforms and opening up, The CPC government at the time took very stringent measures against economic crimes such as smuggling, embezzlement and taking bribes. The road to combating this cancer featured addressing of both the symptoms and the root causes of corruption. Comprehensive treatment and gradual intensification of efforts to eliminate the root causes of economic crimes were deployed and till the 21st century, China has constantly expanded the corruption prevention frame work from special prevention of individual corruption to preventive work and administrative examination with approval, financial management and cadre personal system reforms under the national bureau of corruption prevention to co ordinate the work of combating this vice and holding victims accountable by both the law and national publicity. It should be noted that China has been effective in fighting this vice which has made it swift for the implementation of these poverty eradication programs.

Conclusively, the new battle against poverty is now carried on by president Xi’s tenure. After the tremendous successes in fighting poverty which in saw Beijing announcing it had realized its first centenary goal – building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and president Xi declaring that the country was embarking on what he described as “marching in confident strides toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects,” he called for implementation of newer strategies to lift the remaining poor to prosperity. The new strategies call for identifying the most vulnerable, then analysis is done on the root causes of poverty. These programs have been decentralized to the lowest political composition of society that help in implementation and accountability to the central government and it should be however noted that the present-day mechanisms involve elements of poverty relief dispatched by the government directly to the affected people among special transformational programs such as electrification and connectivity through roads to encourage economic transformation and productivity. As other countries in the global south such as Uganda come up with programs meant to fight poverty such as Parish Development Model, China offers a rich pool of expertise where we can draw lessons on how to successfully end extreme poverty.

Balongoofu Daniel is a Junior Research Fellow at Sino-Uganda Research Centre



China’s Development Model: What Lessons Can African Countries Take

By Alan Collins Mpewo

For all paths of life that grace the present generation, is a story of the past inhabitants who made unsettling decisions to shape society as is. Sometimes such decisions have come off as mistakes because of the troubling situation they’ve caused, while still, sometimes such decisions have shaped the societies for the better. China in the same pursuit is part of that story. From a viewpoint of past and not long-gone events, China isn’t unique in the challenges it had to face from many other scattered countries around the globe. Imperialism leads the long line of the troubles it met along the way. With a look at China today, all seems well on the outset, giving an impression to an unsuspecting mind that everything prior has been merry. It’s a long road to walk down the memory lane, of the many failures China has encountered to inform its current status that some nations tend to emulate. But to get there, it was required of a system propagated to lead to desired results at the end of each project. That notwithstanding, the same system was required to maintain and occasionally improve the registered results.

The China Development Model is the system of focus in this article, what it entails, and what the global south may look out for. It goes without saying, that indeed there are numerous differences in the societies in the global south as compared to China. These range from cultures and traditions, political establishments, social setups, religious leanings, to mention but a least. The China Development Model is a unique parallel to the long existent Western free market-based system. A study of the two systems would boldly iron out the obvious differences and China has for over three decades established an alternative system with its development model. The economic pace in China is a point of academic regard due to the massive economic reforms it has implemented in over 30 years. The unexpected shift has led various of its societies to shift from the traditional agriculture to industrialization. The metrics of demand and supply have no half-truths especially when it’s factual that for majority global players, have almost each household at least owning a commodity manufactured from China.

That’s the power and command the industrialization in China has as impact on the global supply trends. The sharp studies by China in the growing trends and shifts in the global economy have kept shaping its focus on creation and innovation. Another main factor has been the need to provide for its population, the largest in the world, to be catered for while keeping it together. A cultural focus of its communism has been important in minimalism of Western infiltration. It thus stages the battle of capitalism versus communism. By 1970, China was isolated by the two powerhouses then, the Soviet Union and USA. How it turned the narrative around to being considered today’s leading global economy is still a marvel. China has overtime intertwined its political ideology and economic needs together, and that way, it has kept uniform in transactions on every possible socioeconomic for a. For a long run of decades, the USA has had a grip of the IMF and World Bank, sinking many global south countries into capitalism. The unsettling reality now lies in the alternative China has created.

The China Development Model has a major point of concern on continuous reduction of poverty levels, and that it has kept achieving. 100 years ago, it would have seemed to have China as one of the countries with the least corruption rates. The outlook is overly distinct. For the Global South, corruption is the largest contributor of the wallowing people that’s been biting many of its inhabitants. It takes an unshakable will and devotion to strike down corruption levels. Just like China has continuously done, the Global South is challenged to develop a nervous system to cut the corruption levels. Otherwise without such understanding, no matter how innovative the global south gets, the efforts will always be of no much great aspiration. Central planning and service delivery is greatly dependent on revenue. The routes revenue allocation takes and where they end up are a reflection of the various societies. There’s compounded poverty albeit the endless efforts by external players to issue a helping hand.

Another main aspect of the China Development Model is its decentralization and foreign investment policies. These have a major focus on advancing local entrepreneurship and robust technology growth. The tech industry that runs on the model technology is the future is constantly renewed. To grow is to know that time is at the center stage, and that informs the need to simplify human activity. There’s no doubt as to why the tech in China has greatly advanced while incorporating its cultures and traditions. The global south has made many errors. One of those is the identity crisis. There has been much of unselective assimilation into systems and cultures at the expense of their own long-standing cultural systems. China isn’t among. The global south should seek to reshape its development order on a traditional front. There’s need to regain its unique identities. Realigning the fiscal needs in the global south as is with the China Development Model will save the global south from constant embarrassment it has suffered for decades. There’s need to write a unique development script going forward.

The writer is a Senior Research Fellow, Development Watch Centre.


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