China’s poverty eradication model should be an example to be emulated for the developing world but, it should not be carbon copied, experts have warned.

In February, President Xi Jinping declared China as an extreme-poverty free country, prompting a frenzy of questions and analyses from critics around the world, who continue to question if the country’s standards are too low.

But not everyone has been quick to dismiss China’s self-declaration of victory — by Chinese standards — against destitution. Experts like Leah Lynch deputy director of Development Reimagined, a Beijing based organisation with expertise in international development and diplomacy, see the importance of drawing some lessons from the world’s most populous nation and customising their solutions for individual country needs.

“China’s model has worked well for China and cannot be replicated. However, I think it can be adapted for other countries because let’s not forget that, China is a very unique place with its own unique story to tell,” Lynch said

“It’s also key to remember that what China thinks when it talks about poverty and poverty eradication is very much focused on increasing incomes in the country,” she added.

The uniqueness begins with China’s definition of poverty which differs from that set by the World Bank. With a poverty line that has continuously shifted in the last four decades, recent years have seen China’s parameters of poverty focus on rural dwellers living under $1.69 a day, a benchmark that’s still lower than that of the World Bank’s standard of $1.90 a day.

Photo: Xinhua News Agency

Meanwhile targeted strategies that have identified and customised poverty reduction solutions have also been employed by China in the country’s efforts to improve living standards for its poorest citizens.

“You had two to three million officials stationed in these identified and clearly defined poverty villages and areas, going from house to house to register household possessions of what people had and what they needed,” said Michael Hermann who has for the past 5 years worked as the China country representative of Humana People-to-People, a network of organisations engaged in international solidarity, cooperation and development in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.

Currently, classified as an upper-middle-income country by the World Bank, China is reported to have lifted nearly 800 million people — 70% of the global poorest — out of destitution since the country began its efforts of reform and opening up in 1978.

The most notable progress seems to have come under president Xi who came to power in 2012. Under his leadership, Xinhua News agency, reports that nearly 100 million rural residents living below the current poverty line have been able to shake off absolute poverty particularly “after eight years of arduous efforts”.

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