Signed Article by H.E. Dr. Xiao Jianguo, Chinese Ambassador to Timor-Leste,published on Timor Post
2021-03-18 11:52

On 18th March, Timor Post carried an article, both in English and Tetun, by Ambassador Dr. Xiao Jianguo entitled " Deepen Poverty Alleviation Cooperation and Improve Timorese People's Wellbeing ". The full text is as follows:

25 February, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China has achieved a "complete victory" in the fight against poverty at national summary and commendation conference for poverty alleviation. China has accomplished the arduous task of eliminating absolute poverty, creating another miracle that will "go down in history", said Xi. China has met the poverty eradication target set in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. Recently, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres extended congratulations to President Xi on that occasion: "Noting this moment is a notable accomplishment and a significant contribution towards realizing a better and more prosperous world, as envisioned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", "this extraordinary result is a reason for hope and inspiration to the entire community of nations".


Ⅰ. The Miracle of China's Poverty Eradication


Over the past 8 years, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents in China living under the current poverty line have all been lifted out of poverty. All 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 impoverished villages have been removed from the poverty list, with regional poverty successfully eradicated. No country in the world has been able to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in such a short time. The result "belongs to China as well as to the world". China's poverty-reduction population accounted for more than 70% of the global poverty-reduction population in the same period, World Bank statistics have shown. Meanwhile, based on national conditions, China has blazed a poverty reduction path and formed anti-poverty theories with Chinese characteristics, which has becoming attractively renowned. "China's poverty alleviation achievements have made a great contribution to the cause of global poverty reduction, and provided important inspiration for other developing countries in lifting themselves out of poverty", said Siddharth Chatterjee, the new UN Resident Coordinator in China.


Personally, I have been involved in the effort of China's poverty eradication. From 2011 to 2013, as one of the many poverty-eradication cadres, I was dispatched to Wenshan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, in the southwestern border region of China, and experienced and witnessed the great practice of China's poverty alleviation. I visited villages and farmlands, lived and worked with local farmers. My mandate was to solve the problems faced by the local people, such as food and clothing, housing, education, health and small business, and to try to introduce poverty alleviation funds and implement related projects. I did my utmost to contribute to the cause of local poverty eradication. Under the concerted efforts, now I am happy to see that the per capita income of local farmers is growing fast (with an average annual growth rate 32.5%) beyond the national poverty line, that the mountains there are lusher and the water is more lucid, and that every village has been linked by rehabilitated roads and every rural household by the Internet. Summing up my experience, I think, the success of China's poverty eradication that has worldwide significance relied on the following: 1. the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC); 2. adhering to the people-centered philosophy of development and unswervingly pursues prosperity for all; 3. political advantages of the socialist system which can generate solidarity and joint actions for poverty eradication; 4. the targeted poverty alleviation strategy that strived to eradicate poverty through development.


"How difficult it might seem, the challenges will be overcome." Shaking off poverty is not the finish line, but the starting point of a new life and new endeavor. According to the document (Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Comprehensively Promoting Rural Revitalization and Accelerating Agricultural and Rural Modernization) released on February 21, 2021, "China will make the comprehensive advancement of rural vitalization a major task in realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and will speed up the modernization of agriculture and the countryside with the efforts of the whole Party and society". Premier Li Keqiang emphasized on 5 March in the 2021 Government Work Report that "we will align efforts to consolidate and expand the achievements in poverty alleviation with efforts to promote rural revitalization". China will continue to support poverty relief from all walks of life, and will make efforts to prevent any large-scale relapse into poverty.


Ⅱ. China has Supported Timor-Leste in the Cause of Poverty Alleviation


As a Chinese saying goes, "All flowers in full blossom make a beautiful spring." Eliminating poverty has been a common problem faced by countries in the world. China has attached great importance to and advocated international exchanges and cooperation in this area. For years, China has aided other developing countries with projects in poverty alleviation, agricultural development and ecological protection and has donated many basic medical and school facilities abroad.


As one of the least developed countries (LDCs) in the world, Timor-Leste has gradually achieved national independence and development over the years under the help and support of development partners including China and the United Nations. Its poverty reduction cause is also making continuous progress, with poverty rate been gradually reduced from over 70 percent before independence to the current 42 percent. However, this rate is still high compared with others in the world. More over, about 50 percent of Timorese children are stunted due to malnutrition. Therefore, Timor-Leste still has a long way to go in its poverty reduction. In particular, COVID-19 has added insult to injury, making Timorese economy worse, with rural areas most seriously affected. Therefore, the Timor-Leste government has "applied to defer Timor-Leste's graduation" to leave the category of LDCs of the United Nations.


China and Timor-Leste have always been good neighbors, friends and partners, and have based their bilateral relations on mutual respect, equality and win-win development. In 2002, China was the first country to recognize the restoration of independence of Timor-Leste, and was the first to established diplomatic relations with it. Since then, China has been long implementing development cooperation and economic and trade cooperation with Timor-Leste, with focus on improving its capacity for independent and sustainable development and reducing poverty.


Over the years, in addition to aiding Timor-Leste multiple batches of food, agricultural machinery, ambulances, and charity funds, China has also supported Timor-Leste's poverty reduction cause in fields of economy and technology, medical and health, and human resources. In recent years, the two governments have signed several economic and technical cooperation agreements regarding infrastructure, education, agriculture etc. Since 2004, China has sent about 100 medical experts in 8 consecutive brigades to serve in Timor-Leste, who have provided excellent treatment for over 300,000 Timorese patients gratis. Over 2,000 Timorese civil servants and technicians have attended free seminars and courses in China or at home, whose content covered government management, poverty reduction and development, improvement of coffee cultivation and processing, trade and investment and tropical disease control etc. In addition, every year China has offered young Timorese students with Chinese Government Scholarships opportunities for undergraduate, master and doctoral degrees. In particular, since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Timor-Leste last year, China has offered 9 batches of anti-epidemic aids, making it the first country to extend a helping hand to Timor-Leste and the first to aid with charted flight.


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the CPC and the start of the 14th Five-Year Plan period, and China will fully implement the rural revitalization strategy across the board. China is willing to take this opportunity to deepen bilateral cooperation and exchanges of experiences in poverty reduction with Timor-Leste so as to enhance the sense of fulfillment and happiness of Timorese people. At the same time, economic and trade cooperation will also be enhanced to promote high-quality development of Belt and Road Initiative in Timor-Leste, assisting Timorese economic diversification and economic recovery after the epidemic. Last but not least, further efforts will continue to be made in anti-epidemic and health cooperation, with planned projects including the Sino-Timorese Friendship Hospital be further implemented. "The whole world is one community with a shared future." China is also willing to work with other development partners to jointly promote the cause of poverty reduction of Timor-Leste and improve the wellbeing of its people.

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