How China won its war on poverty

How China won its war on poverty

China 1983 © Jan Oberg, Oberg PhotoGraphics

Documentary with Lawrence Robert Kuhn

January 6, 2021

When the history of the 21st century is to be written, there is no doubt that the story of China’s eradication of poverty – i.e. lifting about 700 million people out of it – will be seen as a milestone, a turning point for humanity.

China’s poverty rate fell from 88 per cent in 1981 to 0.7 per cent in 2015, as measured by the percentage of people living on the equivalent of US$1.90 or less per day in 2011 purchasing price parity terms.

On November 23rd 2020, China announced that it had eliminated absolute poverty nationwide by uplifting all of its citizens beyond its set ¥2,300 (CNY) per year, or less than a dollar per day poverty line.

This result has been achieved within just four decades, after Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping declared the Open Door Policy in December 1978.

Very few Western mainstream media have seen it fit to report this. We should wonder why.

US President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his war on poverty in 1964. At that time, the official poverty rate was about 15 per cent. 60 years later, it’s 12.3% – according to the US Census Bureau. These are national averages; poverty hits various social groups very differently. An interesting source here: “Approximately 16.4 million American children – 22 per cent of the population younger than 18 – live in poverty. The rate for people 65 and older is 8.7 per cent…”

At TFF we believe that China’s development – for good and for bad – is important for us all, for the world’s future and for a fair, broad-minded understanding of contemporary China. And that this speaks volumes about respect for human rights.

That’s why we give our visitors here a series of links (under the documentary) to more information. In this documentary, one of the most impressive Western connoisseurs of China, Lawrence Robert Kuhn, guides you to a broader understanding of the question that first comes to mind: How did the Chinese government and people go about achieving this amazing result?

Jan Oberg, editor

Further reading and watching

China’s war on poverty – more on overty eradication and China’s growth by almost 8 per cent in 2021.

“Closer to China” Series with R. L. Kuhn.

The Milken Institute
The Chinese economy the next 30 years (video discussion).

Wikipedia – Poverty in China.

World Economic Forum
Eradicating poverty, the Chinese way.

Graphics: Ending China’s poverty by 2020.

The World Bank 2017
China’s role in efforts to eradicate poverty.

International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC)
China’s Approach to Reduce Poverty
Published by the United Nations 2018.

China claims it has eliminated poverty nationwide.

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