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Village changes reveal poverty alleviation conundrum

2014-02-11 10:00 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e
Photo taken on Jan 7 shows a road in the Gujiatai village, Fuping county, is renamed as Yuanmeng Lu (Dream-realizing Road). (Photo: the Beijing News)

Photo taken on Jan 7 shows a road in the Gujiatai village, Fuping county, is renamed as "Yuanmeng Lu" (Dream-realizing Road). (Photo: the Beijing News)

For the small, impoverished county of Fuping in north China's Hebei province, President Xi Jinping's visit in 2012 was a fate changer, according to a report published Monday in the Beijing News.

Only about a three-hour drive from Beijing, Fuping has been on the list of a national poverty alleviation plan since 1994, the report said.

At one point, about 42.8 percent of the county's 300,000 people were living under the poverty line, the Beijing News said.

But Fuping may not have to linger on the list for much longer. President Xi Jinping's visit to two of the county's impoverished villages in December 2012 may have been a turning point.

During his trip to Luotuowan Village, Xi urged local officials to do all they could to help the villagers live a better life as soon as possible.

An influx of money has followed since, according to the Beijing News report.

Some 1.26 billion yuan (208 million US dollars) was allocated for the county's poverty alleviation work in 2013, more than doubling that of the previous year. Luotuowan Village alone received 16 million yuan to develop infrastructure.

Special working teams, headed by higher-ranking officials, were also stationed in Fuping, while government ministries and commissions directly under the State Council, or China's cabinet, also made preferential policies.

Nevertheless, lifting the county above the poverty line takes more than just money.

For Fuping, a county with total fiscal revenue of 238 million yuan in 2013, "how to absorb the allocated money is a bittersweet task," the paper quoted deputy county chief Li Yong as saying.

Still trickier is some villagers' way of thinking, according to Qie Zhizhong, head of one working team stationed in Gujiatai, another village in Fuping county visited by President Xi in 2012.

"It is a deep-rooted way of thinking in some people to depend on others, wait for favorable policies and ask for money rather than sustaining themselves," Qie was quoted by the report as saying.

Meanwhile, those who are determined to change their fate by their own hands are troubled by difficulty accessing sufficient funds.

Hopefully, this will soon change. A new guideline issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on poverty alleviation work has stipulated that support funds should be transferred directly and in a timely manner to villagers in need.

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