China eliminates poverty in 85 counties

President-Xi-Jinping

President Xi Jinping of China

President Xi Jinping of China

China on Wednesday announced that another 85 counties have been officially taken off the country’s list of impoverished areas, marking further steps toward its goal of eradicating poverty by 2020.

The announcement, made by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, came on the fifth National Poverty Relief Day, which falls on Oct. 17 every year.

This is the largest number of counties to shake off poverty since China vowed in 2015 to win the tough battle against poverty.

It brings the total number of counties removed from the poverty list since then to 153.

“This is an important achievement in the decisive stage of fighting the tough battle against poverty,’’ Xia Gengsheng, deputy director of the office, said.

The 85 counties, from nine provincial regions, went through assessments from third-party institutions before being removed from the list.

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Seventy-four of them are in the country’s less-developed western regions, and 25 are in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, more than any other provincial region.

“A county is removed from the list if less than 2 per cent of its population lives below the poverty line, defined by a per capita annual income of 2,300 Yuan (around 333 dollars) at 2010 prices.

“In the country’s western regions, if less than 3 per cent of the people live in poverty; the county will be removed from the list.

“Removing the 85 counties from the poverty list was in line with local economic and social development, the decision can stand tests and is recognised by the public,’’ Xia said.

He, however, called for continued poverty relief policies and efforts in these counties.