Source: China State Council Information Office
With long-term high-speed economic growth and rapid social transformation to the backdrop of globalization, Asian countries have become the world’s leading contributors to the cause of poverty alleviation, according to a report released by the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) on Tuesday.
The BFA Asia Poverty Reduction Report 2020 examines the latest poverty alleviation efforts among 47 Asian countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic and proposes four models for poverty reduction as defined by existing alleviation practices. The report also hopes to provide a reference for future poverty alleviation efforts.
“By 2019, most developing countries in Asia had seen their poverty rates fall below 3%,” says the report. “Measured via the income poverty index, the current proportion of extreme poverty in Asian countries is only 1.85%.”
“Asia’s developing countries are entering the final stage to eradicate extreme poverty and is likely to make great progress on the poverty eradication target set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the report predicts.
Such progress has been rather prominent in China since 2012. Official statistics show that China’s rural poor population has dropped substantially from 98.99 million at the end of 2012 to 5.51 million by the end of 2019, with the poverty ratio decreasing from 10.2% to 0.6% during this time.
As the per-capita annual disposable income of rural residents in China’s poverty-stricken areas hit 11,567 yuan (US$1,668) in 2019, the report states that the country’s “income poverty” under the current standards will soon be eradicated.
Li Baodong, general secretary of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), speaks at the launch ceremony of the BFA Asia Poverty Reduction Report 2020 in Beijing on Dec. 12. [Photo courtesy of BFA]”With a total 700 million people lifted out of poverty, the highest number in the world, China has become the biggest contributor to the achievement of the goal of poverty reduction via Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said BFA General Secretary Li Baodong during the launch ceremony of the report in Beijing on Dec. 15.
Behind these statistics are the country’s efforts for economic growth and the redistribution of growth. “China’s poverty reduction is characterized by a strong government-led sector-wide growth with Chinese characteristics,” the report explains.
Li said that the eradication of extreme poverty in China will not only be a milestone in China’s own development but also boost the confidence of other developing countries in poverty elimination, contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.
Different from China’s practices today, many other developing countries in Asia have chosen a foreign-investment-driven path, using foreign investment to facilitate social and economic transformation and increase income through labor-intensive processing industries in a wave of globalization. Nevertheless, the report believes that the uncertainties and changing landscape of globalization today pose new challenges to Asia’s development.
The report thus proposes to implement China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to address anti-globalization and trade protectionism, and helps Asian countries and other BRI countries achieve zero poverty.
In addition, this year’s report discusses at length the COVID-19’s effect on Asian countries and presents several poverty alleviation strategies amid the pandemic. It outlines the emergency response strategies taken by Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, saying that many Asian countries’ economic recovery is largely dependent on the continued access to the benefits of globalization.
“We are not only facing a public health emergency more critical than the Ebola crisis in 2015, but also a very demanding poverty scenario that deserves even more joint efforts,” said former UN Secretary-General and current Chairman of the BFA Ban Ki-moon via video link during the launch ceremony.
Regarding China’s experiences, the report notes that the impact of the pandemic has been minimized by macro-level adjustment and long-term mechanisms to prevent people from returning to impoverishment.
The report further calls for regional collaboration and information-sharing mechanisms to tackle the issue of people potentially slipping back into poverty.
“I would like to emphasize again that no one country can achieve the SDGs alone, no matter what resources it has, and I hope this report can be a good start for post-pandemic international cooperation on poverty reduction,” Ban Ki-moon stressed.