Editor’s note: China Media Group, CGTN’s parent company, picked on Monday the top 10 world news stories of 2020; a gloomy, inspiring and turbulent year etched vividly in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unity of the world and the regional conflicts.
- International consensus on respect for science and unity in fighting COVID-19 pandemic
The novel coronavirus became the most serious pandemic in a century. As of December 27, the COVID-19 disease has claimed more than 1.75 million lives worldwide, triggering a global crisis.
Facing a common enemy, the international community has formed a united and scientific front to fight its spread.
China promised its vaccines will be made global public good and take on the responsibility of being the world’s largest supplier of anti-epidemic materials.
- International community calls for multilateralism and strengthening global cooperation at the 75th session of UNGA
On September 21, the 75th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly was held via video conference. Participants urged the international community to uphold multilateralism and strengthen global cooperation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated during the conference that China will always be a practitioner of multilateralism, actively participate in the reform and construction of the global governance system, and promote the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind.
China also initiated the country’s largest humanitarian initiative and also engaged with other countries to share their experiences in fighting the epidemic.
- China is the only major economy to achieve positive growth during the coronavirus pandemic
The pandemic caused the global economy to experience its worst crisis since World War II. In March, U.S. stocks “hit the circuit breakers” four times in 10 days, and the price of international crude oil futures fell into negative territory. The stock market, bond market, foreign exchange market and commodity markets continued to fluctuate. The economies of various countries restarted slowly. The International Monetary Fund predicted that the global economy will shrink by 4.4 percent in 2020.
As the second largest economy in the world, and after suffering the impact of the pandemic, China’s economy took the lead in stabilizing and recovering, becoming the only major economy in the world that achieved positive growth this year. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicted that China will contribute more than one-third of global economic growth in 2021.
- Fifteen nations sign RCEP trade pact, the world’s biggest FTA
On November 15, the 10 ASEAN countries plus China, Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand formally signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP). The free trade zone with the largest population, the most diverse membership structure and the greatest development potential in the world was born.
At present, economic globalization is facing a counter-current, and the official signing of RCEP was deemed a victory for multilateralism and free trade. Some said it held great significance for promoting regional economic recovery and stabilizing the global economy.
- The U.S. exerts extreme pressure on Iran, as uncertainty in the Middle East increases
On January 3, the U.S. military assassinated a senior Iranian general, and continued to increase its “extreme pressure” on Iran. It also planned to extend the expired UN arms embargo on Iran, which was unanimously opposed by the international community.
2020 is the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Iran nuclear agreement. Under the extreme pressure of the U.S., the resolution of the Iran nuclear issue has seriously retrogressed.
In addition, the unrest in Syria and Libya continues. Russia and Turkey reached an agreement on a ceasefire in Idlib, Syria, but the fourth meeting of the Syrian Constitutional Committee ended in vain; the two parties to the conflict in Libya signed a “permanent” ceasefire agreement, but there is still much uncertainty.
- UN and Britain host Climate Ambition Summit 2020; China sets goal of peaking carbon dioxide emissions by 2030
To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the UN and Britain co-hosted a climate ambition summit on December 12 through video conference.
The Paris Agreement is considered a “historic victory” for the global response to climate change. As an important contributor and active practitioner of the Paris Agreement, China announced in September this year that it will strive to reach its peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
- Africa free trade zone to launch by January, while African integration will usher in an important milestone
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is set to begin on January 1, after the COVID-19 pandemic made its original launch date untenable, an official charged with overseeing the bloc’s establishment said on December 5.
The continental free-trade zone, once implemented, would be the largest new economic bloc since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994. It will bring together 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic partnership. The African Union hopes that by 2035, the free trade zone can lift 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty and 70 million Africans out of moderate poverty.
- The killing of George Floyd, an African American man, triggers mass protests; U.S. leaves multilateral organizations
On May 25, George Floyd, an African American man, was killed by police while in custody. Protests and demonstrations triggered riots and violent clashes in many parts of the United States. The Black Lives Matter movement also expanded beyond the U.S. with protests against racism taking place in other parts of the world
Furthermore, race played a factor in this year’s U.S. elections, with political commentators stating that the two parties in the U.S. could become even more polarized.
In addition, the U.S. successively withdrew from the World Health Organization, the Open Skies Treaty, the Paris Agreement, and interfered with the selection of the Director-General of the World Trade Organization. A series of actions made it increasingly isolated in the international community.
- The ‘Year of Mars’ and China’s historic moon mission
2020 has been called the “Year of Mars.” On July 23, the Tianwen-1, which performed China’s first Mars exploration mission, was successfully launched, marking the first step in China’s autonomous planetary exploration. In July, the UAE and the United States also launched Mars probes one after the other.
In the early morning of December 17, China’s Chang’e-5 returner carried lunar samples back to Earth, marking the perfect conclusion of the three-step plan of the lunar exploration project “orbiting, landing, and returning,” laying a solid foundation for the world’s future lunar and planetary exploration.
- Conflict breaks out in the Nagorno-Karabakh region; Armenia and Azerbaijan continue hostilities
On September 27, a new round of conflict broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. On November 9, the parties concerned signed a statement announcing a complete ceasefire in the region from November 10.
According to the statement, Russia began to perform peacekeeping missions in the region, and with Turkey it signed an agreement on the establishment of a ceasefire joint monitoring center, but the two countries remain hostile. The conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has caused more than 4,000 deaths, including civilians, and displaced tens of thousands of people.
Xi Jinping Announces China’s Eradication Of Extreme Poverty
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China’s eradication of extreme poverty at a national commendation conference held in Beijing on Thursday.
With such achievements, China has created another “miracle” that will “go down in history,” Xi said. “Shaking off poverty is not the finish line, but the starting point of a new life and new endeavor.”
Xi put forward the concept of “targeted poverty alleviation” in November 2013 during an inspection tour of central China’s Hunan Province.
Focus on poverty eradication in country’s governance
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has been working to improve people’s livelihood since its foundation, and the CPC Central Committee has kept poverty eradication at a prominent position in the country’s governance over the past eight years, Xi said.
More than 10 million impoverished people were lifted out of poverty on average each year since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012.
During these eight years, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line were lifted out of poverty. All the 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 impoverished villages have been removed from the poverty list.
In addition, 770 million rural residents have shaken off poverty since the beginning of reform and opening-up over 40 years ago, when calculated as per the current poverty line, Xi said.
Reviewing China’s effort over the past eight years, Xi said the country totally invested fiscal funds of nearly 1.6 trillion yuan (about $246 billion) into poverty alleviation and adopted a targeted poverty alleviation strategy, striving to eradicate poverty through development.
Meanwhile, over 1,800 workers lost lives for the country’s cause of poverty alleviation, Xi added.
‘China example’ of poverty reduction
“The country has created a ‘China example’ of poverty reduction and made great contributions to global poverty alleviation,” Xi said.
China met the poverty eradication target set in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, and according to the World Bank’s international poverty line, the number of Chinese people lifted out of poverty over the past 40 years accounts for more than 70 percent of the global total, Xi noted.
Targeted Poverty Alleviation – The Chinese Path To Fighting Poverty
A total of 832 counties, 128,000 villages and nearly 100 million people were living in poverty. This was the reality that China had to face. The task of providing support to them all wasn’t easy, and making sure that everyone receives the exact help they needed was even harder.
“Who were these people and where were they located? If you are intent on leaving no one behind, then you have to locate each and every one of them and tailor relief measures accordingly,” said Lin Wanlong, professor of economics and management at China Agriculture University.
In November 2013, during an inspection tour of central China’s Hunan, Chinese President Xi Jinping first raised the concept of “targeted poverty alleviation.” To crystalize it, he said one should “seek truth from facts, tailor measures to suit local conditions, give targeted guidance, and be meticulous about the work.” These points have become the guiding principle in China’s fight against poverty.
Workers make brooms at a poverty alleviation workshop in Huade County of Ulanqab, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, April 11, 2020. /Xinhua
The first step of the targeted poverty alleviation campaign is to locate poverty through accurate identification, which means specifying survey data by matching it with individuals and households. Are there any better-off families in impoverished counties? Are there any poor households in rich townships? How does one differentiate whether a family really needs help? These were the first challenges that the campaign had to overcome.
“When I was just assigned to the township, I was informed that there were over 2,300 households and about 8,000 people living in poverty. But nobody knew who exactly they were,” said Zhu Shengjiang, head of Yeping Town in Jiangxi Province’s Ruijin City.
In a township of over 70,000 people, a poor population of over 8,000 was scattered among 399 villager groups. Zhu and his colleagues had to go door-to-door and look meticulously into their respective family conditions. Once poverty is identified, they would set up file for the households and log their information onto system.
Screenshot shows the digitally-stored information of impoverished individuals. /CGTN
The ultimate aim of poverty alleviation is to ensure people don’t have to worry about food and clothing and have access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing. Commonly known as the “two assurances and three guarantees,” these are the key indicators for poverty relief officials to identify who exactly needs help.
“In each household, we look at things like whether there is sufficient working capacity, whether the child is receiving education and whether all family members are healthy. If the answer is no in all these categories, then we have found a household that really needs help,” said Zeng Nenggui, director of poverty relief office in Ruijin City.
The launching of a national digital database has enabled data to cover each and every registered village, household and individual, which not only ensures the accuracy of poverty identification but helps nail down the causes of poverty for those who are in the system.
“These households are like a benchmark. What we do is to analyze their conditions and come up with tailor-made measures to lift them out of poverty,” said Lu Chunsheng, director of the Information Center of the National Bureau of Rural Development. “For example, if a family remains poor because they couldn’t receive proper education, our relief measures should include granting student loans and subsidies. If poverty is caused by a family member’s poor health conditions, we then should provide them with sufficient healthcare.”
Prescribing the right remedy is the key. Under President Xi’s guidance, the targeted poverty alleviation campaign has five key measures.
Development & Production
All 832 registered counties have formulated industrial plans to fight against poverty, with over 300,000 industrial bases in farming, planting and processing being constructed on site.
More than 96 million registered people have moved into over 2.66 million newly constructed houses, all equipped with water, electricity, gas and internet. Transportation is convenient with better roads built.
Screenshot shows houses that were built to take in impoverished households. /CGTN
Over 1.1 million registered people have been employed as ecological forest rangers, directly lifting a total of 3 million out of poverty.
About 200,000 students who dropped out of school due to poverty have now returned to school. More than 8 million students from poor families who failed to continue their studies or get employed after finishing high school have received vocational education for free.
Screenshot shows students at school. /CGTN
Since 2016, a total of 19.36 million registered people have been included in the subsistence allowance, support and relief system.
To ensure that poverty is truly lifted, the strictest assessment system has been put in place. For each county to declare it has officially left poverty behind, it has to be thoroughly assessed by a third-party inspection team.
“We have never encountered such rigorous measures,” said Zhang Shibin, former director of the poverty alleviation office of Yunnan Province’s Luquan Yi and Miao Autonomous County. ” During the third-party inspection, village officials are not even allowed to follow these teams into the village.”
The targeted poverty alleviation campaign has perfectly embodied China’s practical and down-to-earth approach in battling poverty, opening up a path that accommodates the country’s realities while reflecting unique Chinese characteristics.
Poverty Alleviation, A Solemn Promise Fulfilled By Chinese Leadership
With its fundamental purpose of serving the people heart and soul, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has been devoted to leading the nation towards building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and has helped it achieve miraculous results in reducing poverty.
“Seeing that poor people and impoverished areas will enter the moderately prosperous society together with the rest of the country is a solemn promise made by our Party,” Chinese President Xi Jinping had said.
CMG recently released a feature television series “Poverty Alleviation”, recounting how China has lifted millions out of poverty. The first episode features an overview of how the Chinese leadership fulfilled its solemn promise of lifting all rural residents living below the current poverty line out of poverty by 2020.
Screenshot of the first episode of CMG Special “Poverty Alleviation”. /CGTN
‘Up and Out of Poverty’
China launched large-scale poverty relief programs in 1982. Xi Jinping was sent down to work in the county of Zhengding, Hebei Province at that point in time. From March 1982 to May 1985, Xi worked as deputy secretary and then secretary of the CPC Zhengding County Committee. Some of his speeches and articles from this period were published in his book “Up and Out of Poverty.”
As Xi wrote: “I worked hard during the two years in Ningde Prefecture, along with the people and Party members there. I always felt a sense of unease. Poverty alleviation is an immense undertaking that requires the efforts of several generations.”
He then brought his dream of poverty reduction to the center of China’s political life.
Screenshot of the first episode of CMG Special “Poverty Alleviation.” /CGTN
Targeted poverty alleviation, a new strategy
The number of poor people recognized by the Chinese government counted 99.89 million at the end of 2012 – a population larger than all but a few countries.
In November 2013, during an inspection tour of Hunan, President Xi first raised the concept of “targeted poverty alleviation.”
This concept of tailoring relief policies to different local conditions became a guiding principle in China’s fight against poverty.
In November 2015, at the Central Conference on Poverty Alleviation and Development, Xi further pointed out that poverty alleviation should focus on four issues – who exactly needs help, who should implement poverty alleviation initiatives, how poverty alleviation should be carried out, and what standards and procedures should be adopted for exiting poverty.
To address these issues while carrying out targeted poverty alleviation, about 800,000 officials were sent on frontline poverty-relief missions, working at local levels.
Screenshot of the first episode of CMG Special “Poverty Alleviation”. /CGTN
‘No one will be left behind’
By the end of 2016, there were more than 43 million people, or about 3 percent of China’s population, living in poverty. However, to lift up the remaining poor population, many of whom lived in areas without roads, clean drinking water or power, would be the toughest.
“Eradicating poverty has always been a tough battle, while eradicating poverty in extremely poor areas is the hardest fight of all,” Xi said.
The country in 2017 demarcated three regions and three prefectures, including the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province, as the poorest areas in the country. More resources were allocated to these areas.
“On the march towards common prosperity, no one will be left behind,” Xi had promised.
Screenshot of the first episode of CMG Special “Poverty Alleviation”. /CGTN
‘Two assurances and three guarantees’
At the end of 2018, the nation’s impoverished population was reduced to 16.6 million, taking the poverty alleviation journey to the “last mile.” But poverty alleviation work in China still faced many challenges.
Some local authorities and departments fudged or exaggerated their poverty alleviation statistics to score political points.
Speaking at a symposium on the fight against poverty in April of 2019, the Chinese president called for efforts to resolve prominent problems in assuring the food and clothing needs of the rural poor population are met and guarantee they have access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing, referred to as the “two assurances and three guarantees.”
The ministries then launched an extensive campaign to resolve outstanding problems and at the end of 2019, 5.2 million people’s “two assurances and three guarantees” issues were solved.
Screenshot of the first episode of CMG Special “Poverty Alleviation.” / CGTN
Reached anti-poverty goals despite COVID-19
The year 2020 was no ordinary year for China and the world. The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with floods in southern China posed daunting challenges to the national fight against penury.
According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to have pushed an additional 88-115 million people into extreme poverty in 2020, which means global extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in over 20 years.
President Xi stressed at a symposium on securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation in March 2020 that lifting all rural residents living below the current poverty line out of poverty by 2020 is a solemn promise made by the CPC Central Committee, and it must be fulfilled on time.
The country took stronger and more effective measures to ensure the full eradication of poverty on schedule. More efforts were made to minimize losses caused by natural disasters, and speed up the restoration of production and living orders in disaster-stricken poor areas.
Ministers also stepped up monitoring and gave timely assistance to prevent people from falling back into poverty.
In December 2020, President Xi announced that after eight years of unremitting efforts, all rural poor population have been lifted out of poverty and nearly 100 million poor people have shaken off poverty.
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