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Political sessions target poverty alleviation

2015-03-09 08:39 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

Qu Shujie lives in a mountainous area of central China's Henan Province. The three-room adobe house has only one electric light, and the most expensive piece of furniture is a television.

Qu's two daughters, both high school students, share a small wooden bed in the house in Huangcun village of Luoning County. His wife is both physically and mentally disabled.

Qu looks older than his 55 years. As the family's only bread winner, he has to spend several months every year doing odd jobs away from hometown, which suffers from soil infertility. Half of the 167 households are classed by authorities as low-income families.

They're all among the more than 70 million poor rural Chinese still struggling for adequate food and clothing. Such figures make China's goal of eradicating poverty by 2020 seem ambitious.

However, the annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC),or the parliament, and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body, have again taken aim at the target.

In his government work report delivered to the NPC meeting on Thursday, Premier Li Keqiang said China must reduce the poor rural population by more than 10 million this year.[Special coverage]

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the meeting on Sunday that targeted measures should be taken to help people lift themselves out of poverty and poverty alleviation work should be done in a timely and down-to-earth manner.

However, the slowdown and readjustment of China's economy will pose challenges to poverty alleviation efforts, warned Fan Xiaojian, a national political advisor and head of the advisory committee of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

The Chinese government has accepted stabilizing growth after years of boomtimes as the "new normal" and it is working to readjust through industrial restructuring.

China's national poverty line was increased from 206 yuan (32.9 U.S. dollars) in 1986 to 2,300 yuan per annum in 2011.

Since then, the poverty-stricken population has been reduced by over 52 million, according to Liu Yongfu, NPC deputy and head of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

However, the work of Liu's office is becoming more difficult. While many areas have shaken off poverty, it is more deeply rooted in those still officially classed as poor, he said.

Su Zhanwu, director of Luoning's poverty alleviation office, said three groups of people are the most challenging for poverty alleviation work -- those who are both poor and disabled; those who solely rely on the government's help without willingness to work; those who are living in a remote area without money to relocate.

Yan Jianmin lives in a valley in Lushi County of Henan. He has to walk 40 minutes to reach the nearest cement road. His father was washed away by mountain torrents five years ago, and the whole family's annual income is merely 10,000 yuan.

The local government encouraged him to move, but he could not afford the 100,000 yuan for the new house they offered him.

Despite the challenges, breakthroughs are being made in the war on poverty.

China finished setting up a database of poverty-stricken people in 2014 in an effort to acquire more information about their situation.

"Next, we will focus on the different situations of every household and come up with different solutions," Su Zhanwu said.

In December, the State Council issued a circular encouraging private enterprises, charities and individuals to participate in poverty alleviation.

Enterprises investing and creating jobs in poor regions will enjoy more favorable policies in taxation and other fields. Where conditions allow, enterprises will be supported in setting up poverty alleviation funds, the circular read.

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