Interview: China's poverty alleviation "a feat unequalled in human history": UK's Communist Party chief

by Xinhua writer Sun Xiaoling

LONDON, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- China's achievement of lifting more than 700 million people out of extreme poverty is a feat unequalled in human history, Robert Griffiths, general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, told Xinhua recently in a written interview.

His remarks came as China announced Thursday that it has accomplished its poverty alleviation target for the new era on schedule and achieved a significant victory that has impressed the world.

Over the past 40-plus years of reform and opening-up, more than 700 million people in China have been lifted out of poverty -- more than 70 percent of the global reduction in poverty.

"China has been very open and forthright about its aim and policies to eliminate poverty, putting it among its highest priorities and measuring progress against bench-marked targets," said Griffiths.

"This stands in sharp contrast to the position in many other countries, where 'reducing poverty' is merely a pious aspiration hidden in a long list of aims and objectives," added Griffiths.

Meanwhile, he lauded the crucial roles of the state direction of the economy, public ownership and control of key sectors, a massive infrastructure programme, including education and technology as well as transport and communications, the construction of a welfare state, and the political determination of the Chinese government and the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) to set and meet specific targets in helping millions of people out of poverty over the past decades.

They "have been key factors in China's success," he said, adding that it is difficult to single out any one of these for replication by other countries.

"Perhaps it is the integration of these factors that is the paramount lesson that can be learnt and applied -- with adaptation to national conditions -- by other countries," he said.

Griffiths mentioned one example in particular which impressed him a lot in the initiatives -- "the direct assistance".

"The direct assistance being provided by wealthier parts of China to poorer interior areas, in effect a form of 'twinning' which has acted to the mutual benefit of both partners," he said.

"This approach, too, has been initiated, monitored and supplemented by central and local programs of economic, social and cultural development," elaborated Griffiths.

Griffiths said that he believes China has a unique advantage in that key sectors of its economy are in public ownership, alongside a macro-level planning by the central government, while "market mechanisms also operate within this wider context".

"This is fundamentally different from the neoliberal 'free market' and private ownership principles which dictate the course of economic development in most of the capitalist world," he added.

Griffiths highlighted the "leading and governing role" played by the CPC, which "is ideologically committed to the eradication of poverty, confident in the knowledge that this is perfectly compatible with a Socialist system of economy and society."

Apart from the poverty removal, people's living standards have also been steadily raised in China for decades, for every category of the population, in terms of both consumption and quality of life, not least in health and education, Griffiths said.

"China's phenomenal record of growth throughout this period has played an important part in helping to ameliorate the impact of capitalist economic and financial crises elsewhere," he added.

Touching on the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013, Griffiths said it is "a mutually beneficial plan for growth and investment" for many countries.

As the initiative is rolling out "across southern Asia, the Caucuses, across the northern Middle East and into eastern Europe, China will also be engaging the peoples of many countries in a mutually beneficial plan for growth and investment," he said.

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