China shares digital economy and other creative poverty reduction methods with developing countries
Local miracle, global impact
Published: Dec 29, 2020 09:40 PM Updated: Feb 25, 2021 10:02 AM

Farmers in Jiujiang, East China's Jiangxi Province harvest Gardenia jasminoides Ellis at a local traditional Chinese medicine base. Photo: IC

China is scheduled to hold a commendation conference on Thursday for the country’s most outstanding contributors in the world’s largest and most successful poverty reduction campaign, two months after all poverty-stricken counties announced they had shaken off it.

China's full-fledged poverty reduction campaign created a world miracle which has not only benefited millions of Chinese people, but also exerted a positive influence on other developing countries, as many have either received support or taken reference from China's successful practices.

Selling local specialties on China's livestreaming apps, receiving job trainings and taking classes as well as field trips to China's villages once fraught in poverty, a flurry of foreign officials and ordinary citizens in developing countries including Ethiopia, Laos and Rwanda have seen themselves connected to the poverty alleviation campaign in China.

"China integrated the online market and livestreaming sales into its poverty alleviation strategy, which is an admirable achievement," Dr. Genet Teshome, deputy chief of mission at the Ethiopian Embassy to China, told the Global Times.

"The Ethiopian government is also giving attention to the digital economy. Ethiopia can learn more from China's experience on how to use digital economy to promote poverty reduction and adapt that experience to Ethiopia's domestic situation," said the diplomat, who participated in a livestreaming sales activity in Beijing earlier this month. 

Observers noted that instead of providing direct funds, Chinese governments at all levels, companies and NGOs are now actively contributing to the global battle against poverty through more creative and practical means, including making use of digital economy and organizing seminars to share experiences. 

Going digital  

The flourishing of e-commerce and livestreaming apps contributed greatly to China's poverty alleviation efforts especially in the remote areas where job opportunities are scarce. The digital economy is now also explored by other developing countries, a trend which carries great significance this year when the world is engulfed by the COVID-19 pandemic, analysts said.

The chilly sauce produced in Rwanda became a hot product on Chinese e-commerce platform Hema Fresh, which resulted in chilly factories in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, receiving more orders from China. This, in return, facilitates local employment, according to a report by the Xinhua News Agency.

"The young local people are more willing to return to their hometown during this special time because the annual income from growing chilly is about five times higher than being a construction worker in cities," Eric Jing, executive chairman of Ant Group, was cited as saying by the Xinhua report.  

This year, Rwanda's Ambassador to China James Kimonyo has participated in livestreaming five times in China to promote the country's products, including coffee.

In one livestreaming sales, all 2,000 packs of coffee the embassy prepared sold out in just five minutes. 

"This made me feel the huge demand in the Chinese market and the charm of e-commerce," Kimonyo said, according to Xinhua. 

"Markets can change people's lives, and the access to the market is crucial. The digital market is a very important media in this regard," Teshome told the Global Times. 

This year, several ambassadors from Africa have tried their hand at livestreaming to sell products to Chinese consumers. 

Teshome said he is "appreciative" of the fact that different Chinese associations are creating this kind of process to introduce their products to the Chinese market.

"We want to cooperate with more Chinese counterparts and associations in online marketing in the future," he said.

"I'm grateful that China is open to sharing its experience and helping countries like us and many other African countries in need," Teshome noted.

Field trip study

China has been inviting officials from developing countries to visit the regions with inspiring poverty reduction experience, allowing them to witness the achievements of China's work in this area with their own eyes and exchange ideas on the subject with each other.

Jinggangshan in East China's Jiangxi Province is one of the popular destinations in the country to host such overseas delegations. The county-level city shook off poverty in 2017, making it the first registered county to achieve the goal.

An African diplomat poses with local children while visiting Jinggangshan, Jiangxi Province in summer 2018. Photo: Courtesy of Jinggangshan government

Known as the "cradle of the Chinese revolution" for its unique historical and political resources, Jinggangshan adopted "red tourism" as one of its strategies for development.

In Jinggangshan, the visiting foreign groups, consisting foreign diplomats in China or invited officials and experts engaged in anti-poverty work, would not only visit local museums and landscapes to learn about the history, but also walk into the homes of families in the poverty-stricken villages, the Global Times learned.

For instance, during a tour in the winter of 2017, foreign diplomats in China visited the remote and small Shenshan village. They learned that compared with selling bamboo, villagers earned much more by making and selling bamboo crafts. Also, it was a practice that raised people's confidence in the government for poverty alleviation.

Xiao Ying, an official from the publicity department of Jinggangshan, served as an English interpreter for the visiting group in summer 2018.

According to Xiao, the foreign officials and experts were very interested in specific measures of Jinggangshan's poverty alleviation work. They asked many questions, such as how to promote industries, how to ensure the basic needs of poverty-stricken families, how to deal with corruption and how to solve the problems of officials working on poverty reduction, Xiao told the Global Times.

"It is valuable to share our experience on poverty alleviation to the people of developing countries," Xiao said, "I am glad to see Jinggangshan could contribute to the world's poverty reduction."

In addition to inviting foreign officials to the regions to see how the poverty reduction work is done, some organizations including the Beijing-based International Poverty Reduction Center in China also host seminars to share experiences. 

In May 2019, a Global Times reporter joined a group of grassroots officials from ASEAN countries on a visit to Hebian village in Yunnan Province to learn about China's experiences in poverty alleviation at the village level through on-site teaching and seminars, which won praise from participants.

Shouldering social responsibility

In recent years, one way China has been sharing its poverty-alleviation experience with the world has been through Chinese companies' investments and construction of projects around the world, especially in the countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Three Gorges Corporation, China's largest clean energy company, has been fulfilling its social responsibilities during its construction and management of projects in Laos, according to a report published this month.

Apart from significantly improving local infrastructure, such as building new roads and houses, the company also shares knowledge and technology with the locals - the company has been promoting the localization of employees by providing jobs as well as professional and systematic technical training to the local people.

Children in Laos attend an activity introducing Chinese culture organized by the Three Gorges Corporation. Photo: Courtesy of Three Gorges Corporation

As education is considered crucial to shake off poverty, the company has helped renovate some schools near its project sites, along with donation activities.

Besides Laos, at its Chaglla hydroelectric power plant in Peru, the Three Gorges Corporation launched the "My Fish Farm" project in 2019, teaching local residents methods of fish farming in order to increase their incomes. The project has been welcomed by the local community.

According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, in 2019, the value of newly signed foreign contracted projects by Chinese companies stood at $260.25 billion, a year-on-year increase of 7.6 percent. The projects created nearly 800,000 jobs in the host countries as well as third countries.

China has also set up the China-UN Peace and Development Fund and the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, and made solid progress in cooperation projects under such frameworks as the Pilot Project of Poverty Reduction Cooperation in East Asia and the China-Africa Poverty Reduction and People's Welfare Plan, said Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry on October 19.

China has helped establish 24 agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa, benefiting more than 500,000 local people. It has continued to seek greater synergy between BRI cooperation and the 2030 Agenda. According to a World Bank report, BRI cooperation has the potential to lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million out of moderate poverty. China has helped developing countries enhance capacity building through multilateral and bilateral channels and contributed to international cooperation on poverty relief, Zhao said.