Shen Jianzhong shows fresh peaches at a planting base in the Wulong District of Chongqing, southwest China, Aug. 9, 2018. Shen Jianzhong, a 47-year-old villager of Fazi Village, developed a desertification-tolerant peach variety and helped villagers to get rid of poverty. (Xinhua/Wang Quanchao)
With more counties being lifted out of poverty, China has made concrete steps toward delivering the country's goal of completely eliminating poverty by 2020.
Forty counties have officially been removed from the country's list of 125 impoverished counties after going through a rigorous evaluation, including assessments from third-party institutions, a poverty relief official said Friday at a press conference.
"The 40 counties have reached a milestone by having the 'impoverished' label removed," said Xia Gengsheng, deputy head of the Leading Group Office on Poverty Alleviation and Development under the State Council.
Southwest China's Sichuan Province saw 10 counties removed from the list. The rest come from provincial regions including Jiangxi, Heilongjiang, Hunan and Shanxi.
A county can be removed from the list if less than 2 percent of its population is below the national poverty line, defined as a per capita annual income of 2,300 yuan (348 U.S. dollars) at 2010 prices. In western regions, counties must have less than 3 percent of residents living in poverty to be removed from the list.
But removal from the list does not mean poverty relief efforts end, according to Xia, who promised continued favorable policies, subsidies and financial support as well as supervision to ensure further development of these areas.
"We will continue to work hard in helping those still living in poverty, cement what we have achieved and integrate poverty-fighting with the country's rural revitalization strategy," Xia said.
The 40-county exit was the third and largest since China launched the battle against poverty, marking accelerated progress after the country saw 28 counties delisted last year.
Over the past 5 years, more than 68 million people have been lifted out of poverty, including a total of 8.3 million relocated from inhospitable areas, and the poverty ratio has dropped from 10.2 to 3.1 percent, according to this year's government work report.
The country aims to lift a further 10 million people out of poverty this year and eradicate poverty by 2020.
With less than 1,000 days left of the mission, China will strive to lift another 600 counties out of poverty, with authorities expecting to announce evaluation results on 85 counties in September.
"For the remaining impoverished regions, the success of the 40 counties will serve as a role model and a source of confidence," said Wang Sangui, a professor with Renmin University of China.