III. We must make solid efforts this year and next in the fight against poverty.
Taking everything into account, China has already essentially achieved the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. However, there remain some shortcomings, the greatest of which is in our fight against poverty. The fight against poverty has now entered a crucial stage for us to secure a decisive victory. Our approach in this stage should differ from the overall planning of the initial stage and the overall advancement of the intermediate stage since now the most urgent task is to prevent our efforts from slackening or slipping. All localities and departments must press on without respite, not letting up until a complete victory has been secured.
First, we must strengthen accountability. As a Chinese saying goes, "Capable people attach greater importance to conscientiousness than to resourcefulness." Winning the fight against poverty is a task that must be fulfilled if we are to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Principal leaders of provincial-level Party committees and governments must boost awareness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the CPC central leadership core, and keep in alignment; strengthen their confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; resolutely uphold the General Secretary’s core position on the CPC Central Committee and in the Party as a whole, and resolutely uphold the CPC Central Committee’s authority and its centralized, unified leadership; and heighten their political responsibility as they take action in the fight against poverty. Provincial-level officials in charge of poverty alleviation must, on account of their special position, ensure that they are well acquainted with relevant circumstances and build expertise so that they can effectively advise and assist in the implementation of initiatives. Each province should select and appoint capable officials to take charge of poverty alleviation efforts. Leadership should remain stable in principle, but adjustments should be made where officials are found to be unsuited to their post or incapable of performing their duties. All industries and government departments must put their utmost effort toward our poverty alleviation objectives, working together and ensuring that they perform their duties. Those who hinder the fulfillment of our goals due to their failure to assume responsibilities, implement policies, and carry out initiatives must be held to account.
Second, we must overcome the most difficult challenges in poverty alleviation. Our efforts to address problems in areas with extreme poverty, poor basic conditions, complex causes of poverty, and overlapping ethnic, religious, and stability issues are the key in determining whether we can win the battle against poverty. In June 2017 in Shanxi, I presided over a symposium on poverty alleviation in deeply impoverished areas, calling for concentrated efforts to lift deeply impoverished areas such as the "three regions and three prefectures" out of poverty. After the meeting, the CPC Central Committee formulated guidelines for supporting poverty alleviation in these areas. Though various sectors have intensified their efforts in this regard, we must make sure that efforts do not slacken. There are certain deeply impoverished counties aside from the "three regions and three prefectures" where we need to redouble our efforts and work out specific and pragmatic measures through a step-by-step approach so that we may overcome difficult obstacles and ensure that poverty alleviation tasks are completed.
Third, we must work earnestly to rectify problems. The most recent round of special inspections and impact assessments of poverty alleviation has discovered numerous outstanding and endemic problems, which mainly exist in the following areas. The first is failure to regard poverty alleviation as a major political task. This results in inadequate assumption of responsibility, discordant thinking, and lackluster implementation. The second is deviation from the principle of targeted poverty alleviation. Some have reduced poverty alleviation to mere distribution of money and supplies, dividends from community businesses, or subsistence allowances instead of focusing their energy on doing precise work. The third is excessive formalism and bureaucratic practices. For instance, some have spent money on whitewashing walls, which brings no benefit at all to the public and only constitutes a pointless waste of the country’s money. In addition, local officials have been brought to the point of exhaustion by the large numbers of meetings to attend, inspections to conduct, and forms to fill out. Authorities of all regions and departments should take a full inventory of problems and ensure that problems in every category are properly rectified, so that we may lay sound foundations for next year’s work.
Fourth, we must raise the quality of poverty alleviation. Poverty alleviation must give consideration to both quantity and quality, but put greater focus on the latter. We cannot allow a scenario in which all localities claim that they have completed their poverty alleviation tasks on schedule but then slip back into poverty en masse a year or two down the line. Adopting a multi-layered approach, we must raise the quality of poverty alleviation and consolidate the results of our efforts in this regard. We must strictly control exits from poverty by rigorously enforcing relevant standards and procedures to ensure that poverty alleviation initiatives are genuinely effective and reach those who truly need help. We should prioritize the prevention of relapse into poverty, conduct timely follow-up checks on people lifted out of poverty, and offer prompt assistance to those relapsing into poverty as well as new cases of poverty. We should look into forming long-term mechanisms for people to steadily make their way out of poverty, including strengthening poverty alleviation by developing industries in poor areas and channeling consumer spending to these areas, enhancing relevant training, and promoting nonagricultural employment opportunities for the surplus rural workforce so that poor people can find stable jobs. We need to provide adequate follow-up support to people that have been relocated, and ensure that our poverty alleviation efforts help people build the confidence and capacity to pull themselves out of poverty so that the campaign is equipped with sustainable internal drive.
Fifth, we must keep our poverty alleviation policies stable. As an old Chinese saying goes, "The most difficult part of a victory is not winning it, but rather sustaining it." In the first half of this year, more than 430 poor counties will bid farewell to poverty. During the assessment process, it was found that some counties that had shaken off the designation of being poor have grown sluggish in their efforts since last year. Some have put their feet up and abandoned poverty alleviation projects, and some have shifted their focus elsewhere. Party committee secretaries and administrators in some counties have shown eagerness to be transferred to other posts, and some people that have been lifted out of poverty have seen their incomes stagnate or even decrease. After shaking off the designation of being poor, counties must continue to complete the task of lifting their remaining poor out of poverty, and keep those who have already been lifted out of poverty from falling back in. In these counties, Party and government leadership should remain stable with officials aware that they still bear responsibility, major poverty alleviation policies should remain in force so that they are followed through with, poverty alleviation teams should remain in place so that they continue to provide assistance, and oversight should be prioritized to prevent people from slipping back into poverty. Relevant departments must work quickly to propose specific ways of satisfying these requirements.
Sixth, we must improve our conduct. We need to incorporate the requirement of comprehensively governing the Party with strict discipline throughout the entire process of our fight to eradicate poverty, and improve our conduct in order to ensure that concrete efforts are made to alleviate poverty, that channels to exit from poverty are sound, and that poverty alleviation leads to genuine results. We need to implement and improve systems and mechanisms for promoting poverty alleviation through Party building, effectively train poverty alleviation officials, and enhance the abilities of officials at all levels while instilling within them a stronger sense of mission and responsibility. We need to exert the crucial role of local Party organizations in leading the general public out of poverty and toward prosperity, push deeper with efforts to combat corruption and misconduct in poverty alleviation, and implement policy decisions designed to ease the burdens on localities.
The vast majority of officials working on the front lines of poverty alleviation have kept their mission firmly in mind, and worked hard for the wellbeing of the poor. Some have long been overloaded in their work, some have had no time to take care of their families and children, some have exhausted themselves to the point that they are unable to go on for health reasons, and some have even sacrificed their lives. We must show great care for the lives, health, and safety of those serving on the front lines of the fight against poverty, and immediately provide subsidies and long-term support for the families of deceased officials. We must see that officials who have performed well and won public approval at the local level are effectively trained and put to good use. We must also enhance publicity and commend outstanding officials so that the public is aware of stories of heroism from the fight against poverty. Finally, with regard to poverty alleviation officials who flinch in the face of difficulty, muddle through their work, or stoop to deception, we must enhance education and supervision, replacing those who should be replaced and holding to account those who should be held accountable.
Winning the fight against poverty is a historic mission that is both glorious and immensely challenging. If we are to attain complete success in this mission, we must continue putting in arduous efforts. We must press on with courage and resolve, making new and greater contributions so that we may realize our goals of winning the fight against poverty and building a moderately prosperous society on schedule.