China shares digital economy and other creative poverty reduction methods with developing countries

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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.

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

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. “Markets can change people’s lives, and the access to the market is crucial.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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