China’s long war on poverty

This article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez provides a detailed analysis of China’s ongoing war against poverty. In addition to discussing the recently-concluded targeted poverty alleviation program, in which the government achieved its goal of ending extreme poverty, Carlos discusses the anti-poverty measures taken during the various phases of the Chinese Revolution, including land reform in the liberated areas in the 1930s and 40s; the period of initial socialist construction from 1949; Reform and Opening Up from 1978; and the more recent measures aimed at building common prosperity. He concludes that poverty alleviation, and more broadly the improvement of people’s living standards, is foundational to the entire Chinese socialist project and constitutes a key theme of each of its stages.

In late 2020, the Chinese government announced that its goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2021 (the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China) had been met. At the start of the targeted poverty alleviation program in 2014, just under 100 million people were identified as living below the poverty line; seven years later, the number was zero.

To eradicate extreme poverty in a developing country of 1.4 billion people – which at the time of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 was one of the poorest countries in the world, characterised by widespread malnutrition, illiteracy, foreign domination and technological backwardness – is without doubt “the greatest anti-poverty achievement in history”, in the words of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.1

What does it mean to not suffer extreme poverty in China? The most easily measurable aspect is having a daily income higher than the World Bank-defined international poverty line of 1.90 USD per day. But according to the Chinese government’s definition, a person can be considered to have left extreme poverty only if the “two assurances and three guarantees” have been met.2 The two assurances are for adequate food and clothing; the three guarantees are for access to medical services, safe housing with drinking water and electricity, and at least nine years of free education. Meanwhile, the land ownership system in China means that the rural poor have rent-free access to land and housing – putting them in a very different category to the rural poor elsewhere in the world.

Continue reading China’s long war on poverty

On the continuous development of human rights in China

Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez was recently interviewed on the subject of democracy and human rights for the Chinese edition of People’s Daily. We publish below the English translation.

“The Chinese government listens to the voices of the people, is committed to meeting the needs of the people, and promotes the continuous development of the cause of human rights.” Recently, British writer and political commentator Carlos Martinez said in an interview with this reporter that the Chinese Communist Party leads the Chinese people. Unprecedented progress has been made in finding a human rights development path that suits the national conditions of the country. What is important is that China breaks the narrow definition of human rights in the West, “China’s human rights protection is extensive and sufficient”.

Martinez was deeply impressed by the whole process of people’s democracy in China. He said that this concept highlights the essential difference between socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics and Western capitalist democracy. The Chinese side believes that if the people are awakened only when they vote, and then go into a hibernation period, they only listen to hype slogans during elections, they have no right to speak after the election, they are favored during canvassing, and they are left out after the election. Such a democracy is not true democracy. Martinez agrees.

“The participation of ordinary Chinese people in running society is higher than that of Western countries. In terms of representing the basic interests of ordinary people, the Chinese government has done a far better job than Western governments.” Martinez said that in the whole process of China’s development of people’s democracy, the people have always enjoyed democratic rights, not limited to elections; available to all social classes, not limited to certain groups. China’s democratic system has its own historical background. It can ensure the enjoyment of democratic rights by the broadest masses of people and provide important support and guarantee for social governance.

Martinez said that China’s achievements lie not only in achieving rapid economic growth, but also in the government’s wholehearted commitment to improving the living standards of ordinary people. The Chinese government pays attention to poverty eradication, environmental protection, education development, etc., to improve people’s lives in general. “People’s demands are reflected in the government’s work, which is the real people’s democracy.” Martinez said.

“Eliminating absolute poverty in a developing country with a population of more than 1.4 billion is an extraordinary achievement and has historical significance.” Martinez specifically mentioned that due to the impact of the new coronavirus epidemic and geopolitical factors, poverty is rising. The Chinese government has historically solved the problem of absolute poverty and made important contributions to human development and progress. He said that while carrying out targeted poverty alleviation, China has actively shared its experience with other countries and regions, participated in many poverty alleviation projects in Africa, and carried out various cooperation with developing countries, which has promoted the sustainable development of these countries and regions.

How China strengthened food security and fought poverty with state-funded cooperatives

We are republishing this important and informative article by Joe Scholten, originally published on the Multipolarista website.

Joe explains that, due to a number of factors, the world is facing a chronic rise in food prices and mounting fear of famine. However, “Beijing has shown how to strengthen food sovereignty, and simultaneously fight poverty with a multi-pronged approach that combines state-funded agricultural cooperatives, stockpiling of nonperishable staples, a crackdown on waste, and government investment in new technologies.”

China’s agriculture, he notes, “is still significantly organized on the basis of cooperative farming. Nearly half of farms are agricultural cooperatives.” Between 2013-2019, the Chinese government rebuilt more than 10,000 primary supply and marketing cooperatives. By 2019 they were present in 95% of the country’s towns – up from just 50% in 2013. This policy, he argues, was crucial to the success of the anti-poverty campaign, as were such key elements of China’s socialist construction as state ownership of land and five-year plans.

Other features of the Chinese experience cited in the article include the system of ‘Two Assurances and Three Guarantees’, ensuring adequate food reserves, the introduction of penalties for commercial food waste, the development of such innovative technologies as salt water-tolerant rice crops, and further strengthening the rights and interests of the working class by, for example, extending unionisation to new sectors of the economy, such as delivery workers for popular apps.

The Covid-19 pandemic, the ensuing supply-chain crisis, and high rates of inflation around the world have led to rising food prices and fears of famine.

These cascading and interlocking problems have pushed governments to prioritize economic self-sufficiency and food security.

China is leading the way in this struggle. Beijing has shown how to strengthen food sovereignty, and simultaneously fight poverty, with a multi-pronged approach that combines state-funded agricultural cooperatives, stockpiling of nonperishable staples, a crackdown on waste, and government investment in new technologies.

While the United Nations warns of “the specter of a global food shortage,” the Chinese government has provided countries with an alternative model to meet the needs of their people.

Continue reading How China strengthened food security and fought poverty with state-funded cooperatives

Poor People’s Campaign and China’s anti-poverty program

We are pleased to reproduce this article by Sharon Black, originally carried by Struggle/La Lucha in the United States. Sharon begins with moving personal recollections of her participation, as an 18-year-old working-class woman, in the Poor People’s Campaign initiated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in May 1968, and goes on to outline the very different approaches to poverty by the US and China. Having outlined the steadily worsening situation in the US, she states: “All this contrasts with the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government, which made eradicating poverty one of its major goals.”

According to Sharon, China’s historic eradication of extreme poverty is not solely due to China’s economic growth, as important as this has been. However: “Without a conscious effort by the Chinese government, economic growth in [and] of itself would not have solved the problem.”

Having outlined the concrete steps taken by China, including young urban students and professional workers giving up relatively comfortable lives to go and participate in the anti-poverty campaign in rural villages, Sharon likens this to Cuba’s literacy campaign. Of course, comparisons could also be made with the millions of Chinese youths, including future President Xi Jinping, who went down to the countryside in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sharon concludes: “What cannot be argued is that socialist China is going in the opposite direction of the capitalist West… Our challenge is to learn from what China has done.”

On May 12, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign officially began with a Mother’s Day march led by Coretta Scott King and welfare mothers.

I was barely 18 years old. Pregnant with my son and filled with the kind of hope that only the young possess — who know little of the hardships ahead — I participated in the Poor People’s Campaign.  

My neighbors were from Appalachia; my mother from the coal mining area of eastern Pennsylvania. As much as I was motivated by empathy for the people I loved who were my family and neighbors, it was the civil rights movement that lit a fire inside of me.  

So when I saw a flier posted by a group of Vista workers soliciting people to go with them to the D.C. Poor People’s Campaign, I called immediately.

I lied to my parents and pretended to stay with a friend, then left for Washington with a small group of older, certainly more sophisticated, participants. Most of them were graduates from the University of Delaware. 

I was the youngest, the only woman at the time. I was awkward; I couldn’t accompany them to bars because of my age, had no money and had never eaten in a restaurant. 

Continue reading Poor People’s Campaign and China’s anti-poverty program

New Year address by President Xi Jinping

We reprint here President Xi Jinping’s New Year Address for 2022 delivered from Beijing on New Year’s Eve. In direct and vivid language, the Chinese President succinctly covers a broad canvas ranging from nature to sports to space exploration. He reflects on the great achievements of an extraordinary year that saw the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and the adoption of a major resolution on party history:

Standing on the Tian’anmen Rostrum, one could only marvel at the extraordinary journey traveled by this major Party, a journey of Chinese Communists leading the Chinese people, in their hundreds of millions, in an unyielding struggle against all obstacles and challenges, and scoring spectacular, epoch-making achievements over the past century.

China’s historic victory over extreme poverty was naturally another major theme. As a seasoned Marxist, in his Address, Comrade Xi integrated the general with the particular on the basis of the mass line:

The myriad of things we attend to all boil down to matters concerning every household… The concerns of the people are what I always care about, and the aspirations of the people are what I always strive for.

Reviewing his country’s signal contribution to the global battle against Covid-19, the Chinese President noted:

Only through unity, solidarity and cooperation can countries around the world write a new chapter in building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Embedded below the text is CGTN’s video version of the speech, with English subtitles.

My greetings to you all. The year 2022 is approaching. From Beijing, I extend New Year wishes to all of you!

The past year has been a year of exceptional significance. We have lived through landmark events in the history of our Party and our country. At the historical convergence of the Two Centenary Goals, we have set out on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in all respects and are making confident strides on the path toward the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Continue reading New Year address by President Xi Jinping

China’s war on poverty

We are very pleased to publish this original article by Stefania Fusero, analysing the extraordinary successes of China’s targeted poverty alleviation program. The Italian version of the article will be published in two parts in La Città Futura.

In May 2020, PBS, a US public broadcaster, aired “China’s War on Poverty”, a documentary film co-produced with CGTN (Chinese State Television). A few days later, Daily Caller, a right-wing news website, accused the documentary of being “pro-Beijing”. After Fox News followed suit, PBS removed the film from its network.

According to Robert L. Kuhn, the producer of the film, the eradication of poverty in China ought to be understood by everybody, owing to the relevance it bears for the entire planet.

It is undoubtedly the story of a huge success of China’s, therefore it is no surprise that the western media and political establishment does not want it to be known and autonomously evaluated across our “free” world, whose citizens are kept carefully sheltered from any positive news about China.

The film can still be watched on CGTN YouTube channel at this link.

Here we will try to illustrate how the PRC managed to eradicate extreme poverty ten years ahead of the schedule set out in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


In 2000, all UN member states committed to achieve eight development goals by the year 2015, the so-called Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people living in poverty. Whereas China managed to achieve the goal by 2015, other countries did not. Thus in 2015 the commitments were reaffirmed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity announcing seventeen Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030, the first and foremost of which was “to end poverty”.

Continue reading China’s war on poverty

Lee Camp interviews Li Jingjing on Western misconceptions about China

Comedian and activist Lee Camp interviewed CGTN journalist and vlogger Li Jingjing on his program Redacted Tonight about common Western misconceptions about China. Highlighted in the interview is the importance of Chinese voices in countering the propaganda war and how these voices have been silenced and ignored by Western media. 

China’s strong social safety net key to preserving national resilience amid pandemic

This article from Global Times provides a very useful insight into China’s social welfare system – how it has expanded rapidly and how it has been able to meet people’s needs during the pandemic. This is particularly relevant to readers in Western countries in which the pandemic has driven a precipitous increase in poverty and inequality.


As the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak swept over China in 2020, the family of Fu Ping’an, a household of three in a village in Southwest China, was facing a much more severe challenge than others during the nationwide home-quarantine period. 

“We did not know how long the virus would stay, nor how could we support this family during the outbreak since none of us has the ability to work,” said 42-year-old Fu, who has been suffering ankylosing spondylitis for 21 years that, in his words, makes him “move like a robot.”

Continue reading China’s strong social safety net key to preserving national resilience amid pandemic

Webinar: From hunger and famine to feeding everyone (26 September)

On Sunday, 26 September 2021, the CPUSA is hosting a webinar on China’s elimination of extreme poverty.

  • Date: Saturday 26 September 2021
  • Time: 8pm US Eastern, 7pm US Central, 5pm US Pacific
  • Registration: Zoom

In 2021 China announced the elimination of extreme poverty, a historic accomplishment of socialism. Speakers from China and the USA will discuss the conditions of old China before the victory of the revolution in 1949: destitution, illiteracy and violence, as well as imperialist invasion and occupation. This will be followed by a discussion of today’s successful poverty alleviation program and the role of the Chinese Communist Party. The class will end with Q&A and discussion.

Speakers will include: Shen Ning (North American Bureau of Communist Party of China International Department), Norman Markowitz (Rutgers University); and Luo Xiaoping (sociologist from North China Electrical Power University).

Suggested Readings

Review: Serve the People – The Eradication of Extreme Poverty in China

This article by Carlos Martinez was originally published – in slightly condensed form – in Beijing Review on 10 September 2021.


In late 2020, the Chinese government announced that its goal to eliminate extreme poverty by 2021 (the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China) had been met. At the start of the targeted poverty alleviation programme in 2013, just under 100 million people were identified as living below the poverty line; seven years later, the number was zero.

To eradicate extreme poverty in a developing country of 1.4 billion people, which just 72 years ago (at the time of the founding of the People’s Republic of China) was one of the poorest countries in the world – characterised by widespread malnutrition, illiteracy, foreign domination and technological backwardness – is a truly extraordinary achievement.

Continue reading Review: Serve the People – The Eradication of Extreme Poverty in China

Report: analysts from around the world explore and celebrate China’s poverty alleviation successes

On Saturday 26 June, Friends of Socialist China held its first webinar: China’s Path to Zero Poverty, supported by the Geopolitical Economic Research Group. This event brought together a diverse range of speakers with different perspectives on China’s successes in eradicating poverty. The entire webinar (along with the individual speech videos) can be watched on our YouTube channel. Below we provide a summary of the proceedings.


Introducing the event, Radhika Desai (Professor of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group) commended the extraordinary effort on the part of the Communist Party of China to eradicate extreme poverty. “It’s been a hard slog, as old as the revolution itself.”

Radhika noted that land reform, carried out in the liberated territories in the 1930s and 1940s and then extended throughout the country following the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, was the first step along the road to eradicating poverty, and provided the firm foundation for transforming what was then one of the poorest countries in the world.

Speaking of the targeted anti-poverty campaign of the last few years, Radhika pointed out that the threshold for lifting people out of poverty was not exclusively based on the World Bank daily income figure. This income figure is accompanied by ‘Two Assurances and Three Guarantees’: assuring that people have sufficient access to food and clothing, and providing guaranteed access to compulsory education (nine years), basic medical services and safe housing.

Continue reading Report: analysts from around the world explore and celebrate China’s poverty alleviation successes

Reminder: China’s Path to Zero Poverty (Saturday 26 June)

A reminder that our first webinar takes place on Saturday 26 June, 9am US Eastern / 2pm Britain / 9pm China.

You can register for the Zoom event on Eventbrite.


Details

On 1 July 2021, the Communist Party of China celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding. Of all the CPC has accomplished in that period, the elimination of extreme poverty is unquestionably among its most impressive and historically significant achievements.

In this webinar, academics, politicians, journalists and campaigners from around the world will explore how China has been able to carry out the most extensive poverty alleviation program in history, and what lessons there are for humanity.

Speakers

  • Senator Mushahid Hussain (Chairman, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and Pakistan-China Institute, Pakistan)
  • Li Jingjing (Reporter for CGTN, China)
  • Utsa Patnaik (Marxist economist, India)
  • Ovigwe Eguegu (Columnist for the China Africa Project, Nigeria)
  • Camila Escalante (Broadcast journalist, producer, presenter for Kawsachun News, Bolivia)
  • Roland Boer (Professor of Marxist philosophy in the School of Marxism at Dalian University of Technology, China)
  • Mick Dunford (Emeritus Professor, University of Sussex, Visiting Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
  • John Ross (Senior Fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China)
  • Qiao Collective (Collective of diaspora Chinese challenging US aggression on China)
  • Tings Chak (Lead Designer/Researcher at Tricontinental Institute and Dongsheng News)
  • Chair: Radhika Desai (Professor of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group)

About the organisers

Friends of Socialist China is a new platform based on supporting the People’s Republic of China and promoting understanding of Chinese socialism. Its website (edited by Danny Haiphong, Keith Bennett and Carlos Martinez) aims to consolidate the best articles and videos related to China and Chinese socialism, along with original analysis.

The Geopolitical Economy Research Group is a policy institute based at the University of Manitoba and run by Radhika Desai and Alan Freeman. It analyses and proposes policy alternatives for managing the interaction of national economies and states to promote human development and mutual benefit in today’s multipolar world.

Only the socialist system can eradicate poverty

Socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism, not capitalism. You can tell from the fact that life continues to dramatically improve for the masses of the people. If the capitalist class was in charge, there would still be widespread hunger, homelessness and illiteracy.

Deng Xiaoping made this point very effectively:

Ours is an economically backward country with a population of one billion. If we took the capitalist road, a small number of people in certain areas would quickly grow rich, and a new bourgeoisie would emerge along with a number of millionaires — all of these people amounting to less than one per cent of the population — while the overwhelming majority of the people would remain in poverty, scarcely able to feed and clothe themselves. Only the socialist system can eradicate poverty

China can only take the socialist road, 1987

Webinar: China’s Path to Zero Poverty (Saturday 26 June)

Our first webinar takes place on Saturday 26 June, 9am US Eastern / 2pm Britain / 9pm China.

You can register for the Zoom event on Eventbrite.


Details

On 1 July 2021, the Communist Party of China celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding. Of all the CPC has accomplished in that period, the elimination of extreme poverty is unquestionably among its most impressive and historically significant achievements.

This webinar will explore how China has been able to carry out the most extensive poverty alleviation program in history, and what lessons there are for humanity.

Speakers

  • Senator Mushahid Hussain (Chairman, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and Pakistan-China Institute, Pakistan)
  • Li Jingjing (Reporter for CGTN, China)
  • Utsa Patnaik (Marxist economist, India)
  • Ovigwe Eguegu (Columnist for the China Africa Project, Nigeria)
  • Camila Escalante (Broadcast journalist, producer, presenter for Kawsachun News, Bolivia)
  • Roland Boer (Professor of Marxist philosophy in the School of Marxism at Dalian University of Technology, China)
  • Mick Dunford (Emeritus Professor, University of Sussex, Visiting Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
  • John Ross (Senior Fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China)
  • Qiao Collective (Collective of diaspora Chinese challenging US aggression on China)
  • Tings Chak (Lead Designer/Researcher at Tricontinental Institute and Dongsheng News)
  • Chair: Radhika Desai (Professor of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group)

About the organisers

Friends of Socialist China is a new platform based on supporting the People’s Republic of China and promoting understanding of Chinese socialism. Its website (edited by Danny Haiphong, Keith Bennett and Carlos Martinez) aims to consolidate the best articles and videos related to China and Chinese socialism, along with original analysis.

The Geopolitical Economy Research Group is a policy institute based at the University of Manitoba and run by Radhika Desai and Alan Freeman. It analyses and proposes policy alternatives for managing the interaction of national economies and states to promote human development and mutual benefit in today’s multipolar world.