China moves two million people across the country

China plans to move two million poor citizens living in rural areas to more developed regions with better access to services.

China plans to move two million poor citizens living in rural areas to more developed regions with better access to services.

China, fighting to stamp out poverty, will this year move more than two million of its poorest citizens from remote, inland regions to more developed areas, an official of the State Council (China’s Cabinet), said on Tuesday.

The mass relocation of people is a strategy targeted at lifting 10-million citizens out of poverty by 2020, the state news agency Xinhua has said. Some of the villagers will move to areas with better social services, such as schools and hospitals, and others in remote areas will move to places with better roads and water supply, said the official, Liu Yongfu.

The numbers would be stepped up gradually and may eventually hit three million, added Liu, who heads the council’s office of poverty alleviation and development.

“We will talk it over with the localities and accumulate some experience, after that we will increase step by step,” he said. Despite two decades of rapid economic growth, poverty remains a huge issue in China, mainly in rural areas, where a lack of jobs drives out adults, leaving behind children and the elderly, often with limited access to schools and healthcare.

China’s poor, who make up about 5% of a population of nearly 1.4-billion, live mostly in the countryside and earn less than 2 300 yuan (R5 300) a year, government and state media say.

In March, Premier Li Keqiang promised a 43% boost in funding for poverty relief programmes.

Last October, the council said China aimed to lift all its 70-million poor above the poverty line by 2020. In December, Li urged local authorities to provide housing, healthcare, schooling and employment for relocated citizens.

Since kicking off market reforms in 1978, China has lifted more than 800-million people out of poverty, but it remains a developing country and the reforms are incomplete, the World Bank says. – Reuters

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