More than 1,800 sacrifice their lives in China's fight against poverty
Published: Feb 24, 2021 07:18 PM

A farmer displays newly-harvested pumpkins in Xujiaba township, Sinan county of Southwest China's Guizhou Province, August 12, 2020. Guizhou, which used to be a provincial-level region with the biggest population of poor people, has lifted more than 9 million people out of poverty since 2012. Photo: Xinhua

More than 1,800 people have sacrificed their lives while fighting on the frontline of China's battle against poverty over the past eight years, underscoring the country's targeted efforts to lift 100 million rural people out of poverty since 2012 through the selection of responsible, dedicated and qualified grass-root officials.

To bring poverty-stricken regions out of poverty, since late 2012, China has selected over 500,000 cadres as the first Communist Party of China (CPC) secretaries of villages and has sent more than 3 million cadres to impoverished villages to battle poverty on the frontline.

Among the more than 1,800 who sacrificed their lives, the Global Times found there were cadres who insisted on fighting on the frontline despite having long-term fatigue or illness. One young couple fell into water and lost their lives on their way back from a poverty-stricken family in 2018, while many dedicated cadres won respect from villagers and persevered in solving problems for poverty-stricken families for years.

The news that more than 1,800 laid down their lives in the fight against poverty touched Chinese netizens and prompted many to pay tribute to their sacrifice and dedication to the country's efforts to lift poor people out of poverty. 

They did not mean to be heroes, but shaped their image as heroes with their own lives, some posted online, while others said that the people who shake off poverty and move toward prosperity will not forget them.

The topic garnered about 290 million views as of press time on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo, with many offering their personal condolences and expressing respect for those who lost their lives.

To mark the country's accomplishments in poverty eradication, Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend a gathering in Beijing Thursday. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, will present awards and certificates to national honorary title recipients for their contributions to the poverty alleviation cause.

Observers noted that the CPC values the selection of talents and has established an effective system of cadre cultivation, selection, arrangement and management. The CPC's well-established talent selection practice has led to the selection of a group of qualified and capable cadres being sent to the frontline of poverty alleviation. 

The achievement in poverty alleviation could not have been made without the exemplary leadership of cadres who are dedicated, responsible and problem-oriented, Su Wei, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "They are the hard core of the country's victory in the fight against poverty."

By the end of 2020, nearly 100 million impoverished rural residents had escaped poverty since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, and all 832 national-level poverty-stricken counties had shaken off poverty. 

Xi had pledged that all rural poor will shake off poverty to usher in a prosperous society in all respects when the Party celebrates its centenary in 2021.

Wang Guanbo, a young civil servant in a village in North China's Hebei Province, told the Global Times that helping families shake off poverty is not an easy mission to carry out as it comes with tedious work from day to night, and requires cadres to tackle every single difficulty that local people face. "I usually visit local families who suffer from poverty. Working overtime is common."

To help with poverty alleviation in villages, the government has arranged for young and outstanding Party members or former officials from government departments, organizations and enterprises to go to villages. They have brought ideas, technology, investment and industries, leading impoverished villagers to prosperity. 

China has explored a slew of targeted and scientific alleviation measures based on different reasons that led to the poverty of the people, providing poor households with customized plans. 

Zhuang Deshui, deputy director of the Research Center for Government Integrity-Building at Peking University, said only China with its socialist system is able to mobilize such national efforts to select the most suitable people for regions that need them the most. Those selected cadres clearly understand their mission is to serve the people, rather than make some slogan to canvass for votes, like politicians do in the West.

The people who participate in poverty alleviation are selected over several rounds by Party organizations. They are able to endure difficulties, solve problems for the people and are willing to sacrifice their own interests for the collective good, Xin Xiangyang, a deputy head of the research center of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era at the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. 

"Those 1,800 lost their lives in poverty alleviation for different reasons. Some died in car accidents, and some in natural disasters. But they all placed the principle of serving the people in their mind and put their own interests to one side," Xin said.

Since the establishment of the CPC, the Party has stuck to the principle of cultivating and training cadres to endure hardship despite being in peace time. This spirit still exists today in 2021, the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, Su said. 

Su also stressed the importance of giving out care to frontline cadres participating in the poverty alleviation mission, which is one of the reasons why they can fight on the frontline without any worries. The families of the sacrificed cadres and grass-roots Party members will be given timely compensation and long-term support.