Tue, July 20, 2010
China > Mainland

Many ways to tackle poverty

2010-07-20 06:05:59 GMT2010-07-20 14:05:59 (Beijing Time)  Global Times

Two children stand in front of their home in Huize county, Yunnan Province. The county is one of the poorest in the province.

Pupils have lunch at a primary school located in a poor mountainous village in the outskirts of Kunming, Yunnan Province. Photos: CFP

Deputy prime minister Sok An of Cambodia said the most impressive place he visited during his week-long trip in China was the Dinosaur Valley, a remote museum in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

The Dinosaur Valley, which is located in Lufeng county, has attracted about 1 million tourists from across China since it is opened in April 2009. It was designated as a major project to boost the local tourism and alleviate poverty.

The income from ticket sales was 46 million yuan ($6.8 million) in the first half of 2010 and that helped raise the financial revenue of the local government by 17.2 percent. The average farm-ers' income also increased by 12 percent, according to the official report published last Friday on the government's website.

Sok An was among 130 political leaders from 28 countries from Asia and the Asia Pacific region who were invited by the Communist Party of China (CPC) to visit remote rural areas in Yunnan during the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) between July 13-20.

About 5.4 million people in Yunnan's countryside were still living in poverty as of 2009, accounting for about 14 percent of the nation's total population living in poverty, which is second highest nationwide.

During the two-day tour of rural areas in Chuxiong and Honghe Yi Autonomous pre-fectures, the political leaders and representatives gained first hand knowledge about the "model villages" that were lifted out of poverty due to tourism, solar energy, and protection of minority ethnic culture.

A good start

Political leaders and representatives visited the World Dinosaur Valley on Thursday, the site of dinosaur fossils and also an archeology museum established in 2008 in Lufeng county, Chuxiong, which is about 83 kilometers from Kunming.

Cahit Bagci of the National Assembly of Turkey told the Global Times that the dinosaur park is a good way to attract tourism.

"It's a good start that the CPC created lots of opportunities for rural residents to raise their income," Bagci said. "The development of tourism not only brings in income, it does no harm to the environment."

He said different countries should learn from each other in the poverty alleviation efforts.

Sok An also spoke highly of the development of tourism in rural areas, since farmers could get income not only from planting crops, but by selling things to tourists.

The political leaders also visited minority villagers where local residents could earn money from raising goats, planting trees and developing tourism.

The local authorities at the Yunnan tourism bureau announced plans to invest 61.8 billion yuan ($1 billion) to build 33 new tourism projects, most of which are characterized by minority ethnic cultures, said Wen Shuqiong, deputy director of the local tourism bureau.

D. Devarajan, national secretary of All-India Forward Bloc, said that India also has many ethnic minorities and hopes that his countrymen could learn from China's successful efforts.

However, Bagci questioned whether the tourism spots in remote rural areas could attract enough tourists each year, since it is far from the urban areas and major cities.

Questions remain

By sponsoring the weeklong conference of ICAPP focused on poverty alleviation, the CPC tried to showcase its achievements in poverty alleviation to other Asian political parties.

Hui Liangyu, vice premier of the State Council, said during Saturday's open ceremony in Kunming that the people living in poverty in rural areas fell from 250 million in 1978 to about 36 million in 2009, and the proportion of the poor population in rural villages went from 30.7 to 3.6 percent.

China was the first country that halved the poverty population from 2000-2015 as part of the Millennium Development Goal set by the United Nations, Hui said.

China's 11th Five-Year Plan, which ends this year, focused on narrowing the income gap between its urban and rural areas, and between coastal and inland regions.

"Apart from concentrating public investments in its interior regions, the Chinese government has reduced agricultural taxes, slowed down the conversion of farmlands to other uses, and increased subsidies for laid-off workers. It even provided free textbooks to rural residents," said Jose de Venecia, the founding chairman of International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).

"We express our admiration for China's success in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty within the span of a generation. This is a unique economic and social achievement in human history, for which the CPC and its wise leadership deserve due credit," according to the Kunming Declaration on Poverty Alleviation issued by the ICAPP on Sunday.

Some pointed out that there might be problems with the poverty alleviation efforts.

Bagci told the Global Times that his political party in Turkey had just one representative in each village in charge of volunteer work for the party in terms of various issues including campaign.

A local fruit peddler surnamed Li of Kunming told the Global Times that he learned that the central government introduced some favorable policies.

"I didn't know which beneficial policies had been enforced, and the local authorities didn't tell me anything about the policies either," Li said.

Jose De Venecia, founding chairman of ICAPP, said at a Sunday that the fight against corruption in poverty alleviation remains tough for all political parties including the CPC.

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