Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Regions covet impoverished status for govt relief funding [Global Times]


China makes plans to allocate more money to help the poor its economic machine leaves behind.

In terms of poverty relief this year, we’ll see a 20% increase from the 27.2 billion yuan ($4.31 billion) in 2011.

This is on top of a “trans-provincial trial scheme for poverty relief in the Wuling Mountain region, which covers 71 underdeveloped counties in the provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Guizhou and Chongqing.”

This report by the officially sanctioned Global Times outlines the Chinese dilemmas and dramas (now uncommon, perhaps?) while revealing the numbers.

A county draws the public’s attention after it “put up huge messages on an electronic board in town to celebrate being deemed poor by the State government“. There is outrage because some poverty-stricken areas ‘scramble for the title of “impoverished county” to gain access to large amounts of fiscal support (Du Xiaoshan, researcher at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences). We also have the worry that ‘easy money’ means corruption also rears its ugly head. “Problems like fund appropriation and misuse are not uncommon,” Du arguing that “the problem can only be solved with a transparent operation mechanism.”

For more –

State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development (in Chinese)

and here is the entire lost of counties (in Chinese).

Highest concentration is in Yunnan with a total of 73 identified.

– – –

Regions covet impoverished status for govt relief funding
by Guo Kai
Source – Global Times, published March 23, 2012

Source – Global Times

Earlier this week, the State Council published an updated list of 592 key impoverished counties that will become the central locations for national poverty relief efforts.

However, all eyes are still on Xinshao, a county in Hunan Province that is missing from this list. The county drew the public’s attention earlier this year after it put up huge messages on an electronic board in town to celebrate being deemed poor by the State government.

“Congratulations to Xinshao for its successful bid to be included in the national clusters of extreme poor areas, as it is becoming one of the major battlefields for the country’s poverty relief efforts,” the billboard reads on pictures wildly circulated online.

Web users could not wait to mock Xinshao after the national poverty county list came out, saying it has clearly reaped the benefits from its earlier high-profile show.

Key counties

Although Xinshao is not on the list, it is actually still included in a trans-provincial trial scheme for poverty relief in the Wuling Mountain region, which covers 71 underdeveloped counties in the provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Guizhou and Chongqing. This is the reason Xinshao celebrated.

The 14 centralized impoverished areas were listed, covering a total of 679 counties, in a new initiative to reduce poverty and boost balanced development for inland regions.

The country plans to allocate more money for poverty relief this year, about a 20 percent increase from the 27.2 billion yuan ($4.31 billion) allocated in 2011.

The increased allocation will be used for clustered poor areas, which will be the new focus of the poverty relief effort.

Du Xiaoshan, a researcher at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that given such a large amount of fiscal support, it is natural for some poverty-stricken areas to scramble for the title of “impoverished county.”

The eight impoverished counties in Baoding, Hebei Province, for example, each received 12 million yuan last year, according to a report by China Economic Weekly.

The special fund will be split into three parts, with 60 percent designated for developing industries and special agricultural items, 30 percent for infrastructure construction and 10 percent for the training of impoverished locals, according to the relevant regulations.

Some are worried, however, that the “easy money” may become a source for corruption in some places.

“Problems like fund appropriation and misuse are not uncommon,” Du said, adding that the problem can only be solved with a transparent operation mechanism.

Transparent system

To decide at the national level which counties are impoverished, the central government considers factors such as the size of the population living below the poverty line, per capita net income, per capita GDP and per capita government revenue.

The first two factors are calculated by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and are worth about 60 to 70 percent of the evaluation, while the last two factors are supplied by local governments.

There are many poor counties, and each one is listed differently.

“The NBS statistics are only generalized. The differences are very small, and there are some human factors.” China Economic Weekly quoted an unnamed local official as saying.

“The data collected every year is not very credible, as current relief and evaluation methods are not adequate,” an official with the poverty relief office of Shexian, Hebei Province, who declined to give his name, told the Global Times. The county was excluded from the list this year.

The quota allocation and the process of choosing key counties should be transparent and accept society’s supervision, and a dynamic system is needed to adjust the list every five years, said Wu Guobao, a researcher at the Rural Development Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Relief methods

National efforts to provide financial support to help poor counties out of poverty have taken effect in many places.

According to a white paper released by the State Council in November, from 2001 to 2010, 592 counties in the program have seen an average annual growth of 17 percent in their per capita gross regional product.

The per capita net income of farmers has grown by an annual average of 11 percent in the same period.

However, financial support may not be the only thing helping those in poverty, experts say.

At least three general factors restrain the development of impoverished areas, including harsh natural conditions, a large poverty stricken population, and poor infrastructure, Zhang Yi, with the Institute of Population and Labor Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Wangdu county in Baoding, Hebei Province, which was included in this year’s list, has a land area of 370 square kilometers and a population of 260,000, about 87 percent of which are rural residents.

“Here, farmers live based on the weather. Each villager has a piece of land of about 0.07 hectares to help them earn hundreds of yuan every year,” Wu Congzhi, a senior publicity official for Wangdu, told the China Economic Weekly.

Zhang suggested that lifestyle changes and urbanization could help poverty relief efforts in rural areas.

“Such as farmers raising sheep rather than planting, people have begun to move out and become migrant workers,” he said.

But Du indicated that the urbanization process, which has resulted in a massive migration of the rural labor force, has also had an impact on efforts to alleviate poverty.

“The lack of a young or male workforce would absolutely affect the development of villages, even though they could help raise household incomes by sending the money they earned in cities back home,” Du said.

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Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, global times, Government & Policy, Human Rights, Influence, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Poverty, Public Diplomacy, Resources, The Chinese Identity, Uncategorized

2 Responses

  1. Great article. You got my follow, mind following me back?

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