（Written by Guan Qiuyun / Translated by Chen Zhiying）The gap between the rich and the poor and the imbalance of development have been the main obstacles to reducing poverty in ASEAN countries for many years. Combined with the COVID-19 sweeping through the globe, these constantly increase the number of people facing unemployment and poverty. According to the IMF, in 2021, the economic development of more than half of ASEAN countries will shrink to varying degrees. And in terms of poverty caused by the epidemic, eyes are focused on China. Its successful practice of targeted poverty alleviation strategy not only provides ASEAN countries with new views but also opens up new spaces for strengthening cooperation in poverty alleviation between the two sides.
As Chen Zhigang, Deputy Director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, said at the 13th China-ASEAN Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction, “Over the past decade, we have made efforts in accelerating the process of poverty alleviation in ASEAN countries and increasing the income of the poor. We will continue to move forward firmly.”
China’s experience in poverty alleviation provides a model for ASEAN countries
As an active advocate and strong promoter of global poverty alleviation, China pays more attention to applying experience and technology according to local conditions of ASEAN countries. Instead of helping ASEAN countries to sustain the growth of their economy, China empowers them with means to prosper.
In recent years, China and Laos have continuously strengthened exchanges and cooperation in poverty alleviation. According to the conditions of Laos, the project of poverty alleviation cooperation in Laos is led by the government. Under the project, four-level project management institutions varying from the whole country, province (city), county, and village have been established. Community management, financial management, third-party monitoring, and evaluation management have been introduced. 16 infrastructure and public facility projects in three designated villages, including bridges, roads, solar street lamps, etc., have been finished. Friendly exchange activities themed on “sister village” between China and Laos have been held two times.
In Myanmar, through visiting poverty alleviation demonstration villages in China, Wu Yingmin, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation of Myanmar, has a deeper understanding of the rural poverty alleviation, “whole-village advancement”, relocation, etc. He said that he would apply these experiences to Myanmar’s rural construction and carry out pilot projects.
As for Thailand, Atua, a planning and policy analyst from the Ministry of Interior of Thailand, who was invited by Nanning Tianye Muge Beef Cattle Industry Demonstration Zone, expressed his interest in the industrial cooperation mode of “company + industry + finance + poor households” and proposed to apply it according to the actual situation of Thailand. Finally, within two years, 927 poverty-stricken households in Khon Kaen were successfully lifted out of poverty, accounting for 79% of the 1174 poverty-stricken households in that area.
In Rong’an County, Liuzhou, Guangxi, the mode of “school in fields”, has been used for reference by many villages in Indonesia. Sulis Jorini, General Director of the Department of Rural Areas Development of the Ministry of Villages, Development of Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration, pointed out that in 2019, they sent 22 village chiefs to Rong’an County to learn experience in poverty alleviation. In 2021, they would send more rural officials and agricultural technicians to exchange ideas and set up more “schools in fields” in Indonesia’s rural villages, so that modern agricultural technology can be transmitted in a wider range.
Besides, with the spreading of the COVID-19 and the development of agricultural digitalization and “Internet+”, poverty alleviation through E-commerce has also become a new highlight of China-ASEAN cooperation in poverty alleviation in recent years. Southeast Asia has characteristic and high-quality industries such as agricultural products, handicrafts, and textiles. Through guidance and technical support of E-commerce, ASEAN countries have improved the Internet infrastructure in poor areas. They integrated logistics and storage resources, strengthened personnel training in E-commerce, improved the after-sales services, and overcame the disadvantage of remote geographical location and inconvenient transportation, to build a bridge to connect characteristic products from poor areas in Southeast Asia with the global market.
Give a thumbs-up to China’s poverty alleviation program
Through active international cooperation, China has provided ASEAN countries with Chinese wisdom and Chinese approaches in poverty reduction. And we have received appreciations from Southeast Asian countries and have heard the voice of cooperating with China more closely in poverty alleviation.
“I asked where I could buy oranges from farmers, people told me to buy them online.” Kung Phoak, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, shared his impressive story about rural E-commerce in China and said that China’s poverty alleviation experience, especially poverty alleviation through E-commerce, is very enlightening to ASEAN. ASEAN looks forward to strengthening policy exchanges in innovative poverty alleviation and enhancing cooperation with China.
Tongvan Vilaihong, Acting Chairman of the National Committee for Rural Development and Poverty Eradication of Laos, said: “The projects of poverty alleviation cooperation in East Asia is of great significance for Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar to improve people’s livelihood and narrow the internal gap. China’s experience has provided many useful references for the social development and poverty alleviation of ASEAN countries.”
Veronica, a researcher from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia said: “China has prevented people from falling back into poverty by improving the social security system, strengthening education and other measures, setting a good example for other developing countries to achieve sustainable development. Indonesia is also helping poor people master the practical skills to become rich through entrepreneurship support, education, and training.
Su Mingqiu, an expert from Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, said that China has not only made outstanding achievements in poverty alleviation but also helped other countries in the region to eliminate poverty by setting up special funds under the framework of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation. We are looking forward to cooperating with China in poverty alleviation projects in the future.
“Planting greenhouse vegetables makes our lives better and better!” Weirkang, a villager from Saitani County, Vientiane, Laos, said excitedly. He also said that since 2016, with the help of China’s poverty alleviation project, the village has changed from an unknown small mountain village to a well-known vegetable base in Laos.
“We have introduced rural agricultural products industrial bases from China. The emerging new varieties of crops and standardized and scientific planting technology have benefited Thai farmers a lot,” said Pitacha, a representative from the Social Enterprise Thailand Association and founder of an agricultural enterprise, after experiencing the advantages of China’s poverty alleviation program.
China will continue to contribute to global poverty alleviation
In the past 10 years, the achievements made by China and ASEAN countries in poverty alleviation were obvious to all. At present, if the average daily consumption is more than US$ 1.25, that means one is lifted out of poverty. And according to the data, the poverty population in ASEAN countries has dropped from 47% to about 14% by the standard.
But the situation is still not optimistic. According to the World Economic Outlook released by the World Bank on Jan. 5, 2021, the COVID-19 increased the number of extreme poverty by 119 million to 124 million, which meant that the number of the poor brought by the epidemic in 2021 was 163 million by Jan. 5, 2021.
The report also showed the Belt and Road Initiative could help 7 million 600 thousand people out of extreme poverty and 32 million people get rid of moderate poverty. With the continuous advancement of the Initiative, China will make better contributions to global poverty alleviation. While continuing to implement the global poverty alleviation cooperation project, China will innovate new poverty alleviation models, such as promoting poverty alleviation through industries, E-commerce, and tourism, to inject new vitality into poverty alleviation. Besides, China will continue to carry out exchanges and cooperation in infrastructure and industrial projects between China and ASEAN, to give full play to the advantages of both sides as the largest trading partner of each other and reap the dividends of economic development and poverty alleviation.
Yang Chen, an observer for international issues, said: “China’s commitment to poverty alleviation has always been steadfast, although under the severe epidemic. China has always upheld the principle of building a community with a shared future for mankind. It has always been committed to strengthening the theoretical research in poverty alleviation policies, promoting regional and international cooperation in poverty alleviation exchange and training, ensuring that more countries and people can share the fruits of international cooperation on poverty alleviation.”
China will work hand in hand with other countries to make continuous efforts for global poverty alleviation, leaving a brilliant record in eradicating global poverty and achieving common development.
Source: China-ASEAN Panorama