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China to move millions from homes to eradicate poverty

IANS | Beijing |

Chinese authorities will move millions of people from their homes across the country as part of President Xi Jinping’s goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2020, a media report said on Sunday.

Over the next three years, Xi’s anti-poverty crusade, which the President has declared one of the key themes of his second five-year term, will see marginalised rural dwellers resettled in new, government-subsidised homes, the Guardian report said.

A total of 9.81 million people are set to be moved between 2016 and 2020 across the 22 provinces.

Some will be being moved to distant urban housing estates, others just to slightly less remote or unforgiving rural locations, the report said.

By 2020, Beijing hopes to have helped 30 million people rise above its official poverty line.

China’s economic ascent has helped hundreds of millions lift themselves from poverty since the 1980s but in 2016 at least 5.7 percent of its rural population still lived in poverty, according to a latest UN report, with that number rising to as much as 10 percent in some western regions and 12 percent among some ethnic minorities.

Last year, Guizhou, China’s most deprived province, was aiming to move about 750,000 people to about 3,600 new locations.

More than 1 million people were set to be moved in Gansu, Sichuan and Guangxi while Yunnan province hoped to move about 677,000 people to nearly 2,800 new villages.

Mark Wang, a University of Melbourne scholar who studies Beijing’s use of resettlements to fight poverty, attributed Xi’s focus on the issue partly to the seven years he spent in the countryside during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the Guardian reported.

Wang claimed those years of rural hardship continued to shape Xi’s political priorities: “From
the bottom of his heart he knows the Chinese farmers … He understands what they want… He even knows the dirty language the people use in the fields when they are farming.”