Since the 1970s, China has adopted the modern economic development model founded on global cooperation and market principles, abandoning the centralized command and control. The country has witnessed major economic development after the transition from the state-run economy, following the economic reforms spearheaded by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. However, true economic development cannot be achieved in the face of poverty and deprivation in any section of the Chinese population (Heilig et al., 2006). Within the economic development context, founded on the socialist characteristics of China, the scientific stance on development in the country, the creation of a harmonious socialist country, and development of a reasonably prosperous society, it has been critical for the policy makers in the country to consider effective means of alleviating poverty. Research has indicated the theoretical foundation for poverty alleviation strategies and practice in China (Heilig et al., 2006; Kohli, 2009). The efforts towards development and poverty eradication have culminated in the design and implementation of integrated poverty alleviation policy.
China has witnessed considerable economic development among the developing nations globally. The development has been accompanied by a considerable reduction in levels of poverty in the country (Hussain, 2003). Nonetheless, the reality does not amount to complete poverty eradication in the country, suggesting that there are still those living on below $1.99 a day. The rural populations and immigrants in the country are the most affected by poverty, restricted access to social protection programs, employment, housing, healthcare, and quality education (Chen & Powell, 2012). Major reforms in the country have accompanied the economic reforms that commenced in the late 1970s, leading to wide-ranging policy reforms. The integrated poverty alleviation policy is the significant strategy towards alleviating poverty and improving the well-being of the Chinese people. The policy relates to efforts to augment human capital, social security, and development to make the lives of the Chinese better in terms of reducing poverty levels.
The policy was founded on the theoretical foundation that development-oriented strategies are the primary pillar in addressing the problem of poverty. The policy in place in China is a government-funded policy that is founded on efforts to enhance the economic capability of the economically disadvantaged populations, especially those residing in rural areas. The policy also concentrates on the efforts to address the factors underlying poverty, including providing better opportunities for education, employment, and health to the affected populace (Kohli, 2009). Among the programs associated with poverty is the social security-backed strategy with which the government of China implemented as a rural and urban medical assistance plan aimed at making health care more affordable to the people. Besides looking into the medical wellbeing of the poor in rural areas, the program is also providing insurance for the immigrants residing and working in urban areas (Chan, Ngok, and Phillips, 2008). The source of funding for the program includes government subsidies, collective assistance, as well as individual disbursement.
The policy is founded on allocation of resources for the benefits of the poor in society. The policy makers in the country adopted the framework of global development, taking advantage of the global efforts geared towards development (Edwards, 2009). The reality is highlighted by the role played by international and non-governmental organizations in supporting the country’s efforts to eradicate poverty in the society. The growing focus is on the participatory and the bottom-up strategies, which imply the significant transformations in governance at local and national levels aimed at addressing the potential resistance and bureaucracy (Sanyal, 1996). The policy is based on targeted efforts, which means that it is dedicated to the vulnerable people in the country, primarily the poor in rural China and migrant workers in urban China. Rural development has remained a key focus of the government since 1994 given the high levels of poverty in rural China (Chan, Ngok, and Phillips, 2008). In fact, the economic development in the country cannot be equally achieved by disregarding the poor in the country.
The poverty alleviation policy in China is founded on serious efforts to improve the lives of the Chinese people by emphasizing on the augmentation of human capital. Since 2006, the government has undergone reforms implementing measures for boosting human capital. The integrated poverty alleviation policy has been adopted in China, borrowing from a global model, which is targeted towards bettering the infrastructure and improving the economic performance of the remote areas (Chen & Powell, 2012). Better infrastructure is one of the factors cited for stimulating development and enhancing poverty eradication (Roy, 2009). Health and educational programs are some of the means for improving the lives of the people in rural areas. One such program is the fiscal reforms supporting free and compulsory education founded on exception of textbook and tuition fees for all the children. The government of China implemented subsidized living allowances for students from poor backgrounds. By 2010, the total expenditure by local and federal government on the policy subsidizing education was 10 billion yuan (Yan, 2015). In addition, the State Council implemented regulations on pre-school education emphasizing on the value of universal education and better welfare of the people (Chen & Powell, 2012). The measures were aimed at bettering the lives of those affected by poverty.
Evaluation of Effectiveness
Since the integrated poverty alleviation policy was implemented, it has played a critical role towards achievement of economic growth and alleviation of poverty in China. The focus of the policy is on the factors underlying poverty, including education, health, and social equity, which have played a critical role in the achievements made since the implementation of the policy. Eradication of poverty by focusing on the factors underlying it was one of the primary goals of the policy. The goal is fundamental to the global objective of eradicating poverty as a fundamental right of the people globally (Kohli, 2009). Implementation of the policy designates the endeavor by the government of China towards guaranteeing and improving the well-being of the people. Achievement of the goal is evident in the development of the wide range of social undertakings to garner benefits for the people of China.
The policy has a goal of ensuring that the economic development witnessed in the country does not leave out any section of the society. Enjoyment of the rights to equal participation as well as equality in economic development has been promoted globally (Chen & Powell, 2012). The November 2012, 18th National Congress of the CPC, elucidated the principles of a step towards achievement of the Chinese Dream of rejuvenating the society. The actions of the country towards poverty reduction are effective and solid, and the policy has contributed greatly to global poverty eradication cause (Kohli, 2009). In terms of development of global world human rights, the policy has also made considerable strides. The ongoing development-oriented poverty reduction policy concentrated in the rural parts of the country has played a role in the strides to improve the quality of life by reducing the levels of poverty.
Regarding human rights, poverty reduction is the greatest form of evidence of the progress in the country. In the course of the policy and related programs put in place for the last three decades, the government and other players have managed to raise more than 700 million people from poverty in the country. By 2015, there was a decline in the number of residents in rural areas to 55.75 million, with a drop in poverty incidence to 5.7%. The policy has also achieved in the context of improving the infrastructure as well as fundamental public services (Yan, 2015). The 2015 report by the UN Millennium Development Goals has indicated that the percentage of those experiencing extreme poverty in the country has declined by 50% from 61% in 1990 to under 30% by 2002. There has been a further decline to 4.2% in 2014. The proportion of those who have come out of poverty in the country has accounted for 70% of the global total (Yan, 2015). Besides the reduction in poverty, the country has assisted the developing countries towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goal.
Assumptions and their Appropriateness Regarding the Sources of Poverty
The policy is founded on the assumption that poverty is not the primary problem that should be addressed. Rather, the policy makers should identify and tackle the factors underlying the problem, including health care, employment, and other social issues affecting the vulnerable populations. Poverty is a problem that arises from the interplay of a number of conditions (Kohli, 2009). The reality is evident in the segments of the Chinese society affected by poverty that is those living in rural areas and the migrant workers in urban parts of the country. The impact of poverty in the society is founded on the inadequate education, health care, and employment for the affected sectors of the society. For instance, the rural agricultural community has inadequate access to the opportunities that would allow them to rise about the poverty that has historically affected the community.
By using data to track the situation of poverty in the country, the Chinese government carried out an analysis of the factors behind the problem, providing direction for the development of targeted programs to tackle it. Based on the collected data, it was realized that the gap in education and access to health care between the urban and rural dwellers remained huge (Yan, 2015). In addition, the reality that the economic capability of the rural agricultural communities was below that of the urban non-agricultural communities is evident. Based on the division between the two units of the population, the government concentrated the economic development efforts in the urban section, leaving out the rural part, which accelerated the level of poverty in the latter while the former remained an important part of the economic development efforts (Yan, 2015). For instance, the urban population has gained better access to employment, education, and health, leaving behind the rural population, and hence explaining the uneven development in the country.
The Means of Poverty Alleviation
The mechanisms entrenched within the policy for poverty reduction have been innovative, founded on the criticality of observing human rights. The policy is based on comprehensive development being achievable where all the sections of the society are included, hence the implementation of an integrated policy. The focus has allowed for a solid basis for the achievement of inclusive development in all parts of the society (Sanyal, 1996). The government has implemented targeted measures towards the end of alleviating poverty. Implementation of the targeted measures comes in the form of financing, projects, and recipients. Aiming at the affected households plays the role of ensuring that the programs target the very core of the problem. Officials are selected from each village to implement the measures for alleviating poverty, ensuring that the goals of the policy are met in line with the specific standards. The government has managed to enhance the effects of poverty reduction, improving the rate of eradication and ensuring the right to life for the affected individuals, households, and communities.
The government has supported the efforts to eradicate poverty through the development of segments with localized elements, such as the agricultural sector in the rural parts of the country. In fact, over the years, the government has developed a number of plans and programs to achieve development in the disadvantaged regions. Such programs include “the Guiding Opinions on Strengthening Poverty Alleviation Work in the Agricultural Industry and Poverty Alleviation Plan in the Forestry Sector (2013-2020), Poverty Alleviation Through Development Plan of the Agricultural Industry (2011-2020), Increasing the Income of Industries with Local Features and Development Plan for Economic Forests (2013-2020), and the Twelfth Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015)” (Lang, Chen & Li, 2016). Implementation of targeted programs with a local focus has been shown to play a role in improving the living standards of the poor in the rural parts of China. Evidently, the solutions to the problem have focused on the primary causes of the problem. The rigorous efforts have provided a chance to get the poor out of poverty and assist them in contributing towards the economic development of the country.
A focus on developing education has been viewed as a major step in alleviating poverty in the country. Various programs and measures have been implemented towards this end. First, there is an ongoing promotion of a balance between the implementation of mandatory education and continued development of human capital. Secondly, there is improvement of education infrastructure in the poorest parts of the country. The implementation of the Action Plan for Three-Year Preschool Education, and enrollment of children from poor households to obtain an education are other initiatives by the government (Lang, Chen & Li, 2016). Making education more affordable is another measure that has been implemented. In this case, the government has exempted tuition and other fees for students in vocational schools and allocated subsidies for students to access affordable residents. The measures are all aimed at ensuring that students from poor backgrounds have quality education to develop human capital for economic growth and development.
The Appropriateness of Implementation of the Policy
Implementation of the program targeting the primary factors underlying the problem has been appropriate because the best way to tackle a problem is to deal with the root cause instead of focusing on the actual problem. Therefore, targeting the underlying factors has been critical in addressing the issue of poverty in China. Providing better chances for employment by increasing capital into economic programs in the rural areas is suitable for assisting people to get out of the poverty and allowing their contribution towards the economic development of the state. The same would be achieved through greater concentration on education. Major efforts have been implemented in the country to alleviate poverty by improving the quality of education for the impoverished communities. Development of human labor has beneficial effects on society (Chen, 2012). The Twelfth Five-Year Plan stage witnessed concerted efforts by the government to consider education as a priority in eradicating poverty.
Education is not the only area targeted by the integrated policy on poverty alleviation. For instance, the government has created a three-tier health service as well as rural medical services. The programs were launched in the villages, towns, and counties with the aim of reaching the very people affected by the problem of poverty. The clinics are designed to provide subsidized medical services, hence improving the level of health care in the targeted areas. “Reduction of Maternal Mortality and Elimination of Neonatal Tetanus” is a government-supported program that has been in place since 2001, enabling the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal of reduction in the rate of infant mortality with more than 60 percent (Fan et al., 2012). Following implementation of the programs, it is critical to establish whether the goals of the policy have been achieved. In fact, a healthy nation is expected to provide incentives for development of the nation.
Lessons based on the Policy
The Chinese approach to poverty alleviation has become a model for the developing nations across the world. It has provided the basis for the implementation of global efforts to dealing with the problem and hence providing critical lessons for other developing nations. For instance, given the reality that China has achieved one of the Millennium Development Goals through poverty alleviation and the achievement of human rights, the milestone has communicated to other nations the message that it is possible to eradicate poverty. The endeavors of China have been supported by the international community and will become part of history of success in addressing the problem (Sanyal, 1996). The achievement also indicates a high level of success in the leadership and the socialism models of development. In addition, the two aspects have worked towards achieving integrative development. The level of success reveals the commitment on the part of the government to address a social problem that is common in many other countries in the world.
Countries that are still struggling to get out of poverty have major lessons to learn from the China. The developing countries, especially in Africa are still struggling to raise their GDP (Jerven, 2012). Although the author suggests that the problem could be in the view of the GDP from a western perspective and setting of targets for development that are hard to achieve, there is no doubt that these countries are lagging behind in terms of economic development. China has set targets for development that continue to be achieved, setting precedence for other developing nations in the world. Hence, the model can be emulated, with some improvements, in the African countries like South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria, which are the countries in Africa that have been performing relatively well economically.
Areas in Need for More Action
The extent of success does not indicate that the government of China has achieved everything in addressing the social problem. Therefore, there are areas where more work is critical, including the level of participation and better allocation of resources for development purposes. Alleviation of poverty necessitates more input by the Chinese government to deal with the disparity between urban and rural populations. While economic development has been achieved in the country, the urban populations are more economically endowed compared to the rural agricultural populations. Fan, Zhang, and Zhang (2012) elucidated that the government remains in control of the very large share of social capital with inadequate resources being allocated to public programs, including those geared towards poverty eradication. Thus, there is a need for social capital and resource allocation to the policy and programs aimed at eradicating poverty in the country and bettering the lives of the rural populations.
Income distribution is still a problem in China. The reality is that the current infrastructure remains inadequate to incentivize income redistribution or labor, which would bring up the poor into the same level as the rich (Roy, 2009). Hence, the agricultural community living in the rural areas has continued to lag behind the richer urban dwellers. The national statistics in 2009 indicated that the 70% of the entire government income is obtained from indirect levies like consumption, value added tax, and income tax. Gustafsson & Sicular (2008) suggested a regressive nature of the revenue that renders it challenging to government, especially when dealing with inequality in the country. The problem is due to the systematized discrimination, including the separation of the population of the society into the agricultural and non-agricultural communities (Sanyal, 1996). Such actions had a critical role to play in limiting the access to education, health care, and housing opportunities to those residing in the rural areas, hence, augmenting their levels of poverty. Therefore, to address the problem of poverty, it is critical to address such institutionalized inequalities.
Conclusion and Recommendations
There is no doubt that the poverty eradication model of China can be used as a model informing efforts in other developing countries in the world. However, there are important lessons that should be learned from the model to make it more effective. The lessons are based on the recognition that while the model has been effective, there are some areas that would require improvement to make it better. One of the areas is enhanced ways of improving government revenue and equitable use of the same in addressing the problem (Sanyal, 1996). The government in the country and other developing countries should adopt more progressive tax systems as well as enhanced investments in public programs to improve the lives of the poor.
Another lesson that should be learned is the need to address inequality in society as a way of improving the lives of all the people in the country. The recommendation is to avoid such system as the one adopted by Hukou, which institutionalize inequality (Chan, Ngok, and Phillips, 2008). Adequate allocation of resources is a critical part when eradicating poverty. While the policy in place in the country has allowed allocation of resources on different programs, there are no adequate measures of ensuring that the resources reach the programs and the affected members of society. Indeed, effective approaches targeting the poor people will encourage efforts that will address the problem. Adopting more participatory efforts to tackle the problem will ensure that the resources reach more people, hence avoiding loopholes for wastage, and allocating the resources to areas where they should not, or benefiting individual interests.