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Poverty eradication with Chinese characteristics

Paul Tembe, People’s Daily Online reports that the People’s Republic of China has achieved a historic feat by achieving Goal 1 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs’ Goal 1 enjoins all countries to eradicate poverty. Absolute poverty was eradicated by the PRC 10 years before 2030. The explicit goal of Goal 1 is to “End poverty everywhere”. This SDG goal is based on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aims to decrease the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day (roughly R19), and to provide decent work, particularly for women.

These targets have been used by the PRC to set a new global standard for poverty elimination, especially for rural China citizens and their communities.

President Xi Jinping declared that all 98.99 millions rural residents who were living below the poverty line had been lifted from poverty in February 2021. This was the same year as the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC). All 832 counties and 128,000 villages that are impoverished have been removed from the poverty line.


The PRC used three guarantees and two assurances to determine its criteria. These assurances were based on the production of policies that provide adequate food and clothing to rural residents who are poor.

These benefits were complemented by access to non-negotiable medical services, nine years of compulsory schooling and safe housing.

Public delivery of infrastructure was also a key factor in eradicating absolute poverty. Rural areas were able to access 1.1 million kms of reconstructed highways.


These rural areas were equipped with 4G technology and optical fibre communications (OFC). This covered 98 percent of rural areas. These were the results of the 1978 reform and opening up process.

Deng Xiaoping, a former Chinese leader, was pivotal in leading the fight against poverty through agrarian reforms. These early reforms were based on reforming the infrastructure and revolutionising agricultural sectors in order to be effective.

This required significant investment in irrigation, drainage, road infrastructure, and internet access to connect farmers with markets. It also encouraged service sector investments in rural areas and created employment opportunities.

The PRC’s example is an example of what can be achieved when there is (i) decisive leadership; (ii] uninterrupted legal and policy continuity; (iii] bottom-up people empowerment; (iv) solid intergovernmental relationships and private sector partnerships and (v) leveraging context circumstances (in geography and politics, etc.).

These factors have combined to create “poverty elimination with Chinese characteristics”. China eradicated absolute poverty and hunger through making distance education widely accessible. It made sure that rural areas without OFC had telemedicine and ecommerce.

It is possible for South Africa to follow the Chinese model of ending all forms of poverty. It is necessary to have bold, decisive leadership that is independent of ideological party affiliations and focuses only on achieving one goal.

The second is to give citizens the tools they need to liberate themselves from dependency on social grants. Third, mobilizing a whole of society approach requires the participation of the private sector.

China has rightly celebrated ending poverty in the PRC. But there’s still much to do. President Xi stated that “being lifted out of poverty does not mean you are free from it, but rather it is the beginning of a new life.

Paul Tembe, a South African expert in China is

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