‘As gains in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic are now being felt, our leaders must affirm the nation’s resolve to rise up to the challenge as China has done.’
EVEN if China has claimed to have reduced the incidence of extreme poverty among its 1.4 billion people, this giant neighbor has always said it is still a developing country with a need to lift millions more out of abject poverty, a position the United Nations has sustained.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said China’s poverty reduction experience “can provide valuable lessons to other developing countries” while Jorge Chediek, director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, said: “China gives us an affirmation that the Sustainable Development Goals-1 is attainable… a significant contribution to global poverty eradication.”
According to the World Population Review (WPR), global poverty rate today is still 8.6% or 700 million people remain poor and hungry. The WPR rates poverty in the following countries thus: China 0.6, Vietnam 6.7, Japan 15.7, US 17.8, Philippines 21.6, India 21.9, and Myanmar 24.8.
The Philippines’ poverty rate, according to National Economic Development Authority, was at 16.6% in 2018, and is expected to deteriorate through this COVID-19 crisis to 17.5% in 2021. The Philippines is facing dire poverty challenges in the year ahead and every lesson from China’s claimed success is wise to heed.
Two of these lessons are an iron political will and a lean-but-mean organization. President Xi Jinping, in a speech outlining the measures taken in China’s successful anti-poverty campaign, mentioned “special commissioners for poverty relief” and 255,000 teams to bring on-the-ground support engaged in house-to-house targeted poverty alleviation projects.
In our case, the economic recovery program should highlight agriculture to boost domestic employment and exports to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries, and industrial joint ventures capturing the regional supply-chain realignments and accelerating key industrial production.
As gains in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic are now being felt, our leaders must affirm the nation’s resolve to rise up to the challenge as China has done.