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Experts say China poverty alleviation lessons are valuable to Africa

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Left-behind women and poor migrant workers make down jackets ordered by customers at a poverty alleviation workshop in an industrial concentration area in Guangshan County, central China’s Henan province, March 9, 2018. (Photo from CFP)
Left-behind women and poor migrant workers make down jackets ordered by customers at a poverty alleviation workshop in an industrial concentration area in Guangshan County, central China’s Henan province, March 9, 2018. (Photo from CFP)

African countries could learn from China’s successful poverty alleviation campaign to advance their development, experts and officials said Wednesday at a virtual seminar.

The seminar on poverty alleviation was co-hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Rwanda and Africa-China Review, a Rwanda-based publication focusing on Africa-China cooperation. Moderated by Gerald Mbanda, a Rwandan researcher and publisher, the seminar attracted participants from China and African countries, who discussed China’s experience of poverty alleviation and its relevance for Africa.

China declared a “complete victory” in eradicating absolute poverty in 2021, meeting the poverty eradication target set out in the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule.

China’s achievement has inspired African countries that are striving for sustainable development, the experts said Wednesday at the seminar.

“I think it can work for Africa, China has provided inspiration for the African people because of what they have achieved,” said Adhere Cavence, a Kenya-based international researcher.

“I believe it is possible because there are enabling conditions including a very strong partnership between China and African countries … I think African countries can learn from the Chinese experience,” he said.

Zeno Mutimura, a Rwandan diplomat speaking as chief guest for the seminar, said Africa can build on China’s practices to reduce poverty in the continent such as ensuring “people-centered policies.”

He said Rwanda had lifted one million people out of poverty through practices similar to those of China which focused on people.

Mweusi Karake, a former official at the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, said China was able to integrate its successful poverty reduction practices with its own domestic realities in its poverty alleviation course. “Africa’s biggest problem has been the copy and paste of the Western countries system … don’t copy and paste, identify what is doable and do it.”

China’s success inspires countries seeking to accelerate development, said Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda Wang Xuekun. “It creates a new model for human progress and provides new options for developing countries to draw from to achieve independent development. It dispels the myths that only Westernization could lead to success.”

He said China and Africa can work together to prove to the world that after the victory against colonialism and foreign invasion, the battle against poverty and backward development can also be won.

“We can stand on our own feet and let our people make a better life,” he said.

Over the past 40 years, China has lifted nearly 800 million people out of poverty, accounting for more than 75 percent of global poverty reduction in the same period.

This has never been seen in China’s history, Wang said, adding that in the process, China’s economy leapfrogged to 18 trillion U.S. dollars in 2022, becoming the main trading partner of over 140 countries and regions.

China has also established the largest education, healthcare and social security systems in the world, and narrowed the gap between the rich and the poor, creating a more equal society that does not leave anyone behind.

Xia Qingjie with Peking University said general principles from China’s economic miracle include a strong central government dedicated to the well-being of the vast majority of citizens and empowering people with education and healthcare, as well as well-functional market economies and successful state-owned enterprises.

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