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What is the overview of poverty alleviation in Tibet?
update:December 17,2019
Dec. 17, 2019 -- Tibet connotes particular things in the foreign media. When I am outside of China and see a report about Tibet, I can quite often predict its theme and tone. I can quite confidently predict that the report is not about poverty alleviation. Perhaps some should. To appreciate the full story of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, one should understand how China’s targeted poverty alleviation campaign is working there.
President Xi Jinping has made targeted poverty alleviation a cornerstone of his domestic agenda, because for China to truly become a “moderately prosperous society by 2020”, not a single Chinese citizen should be living below the line of extreme poverty. Since the founding of People’s Republic of China, China’s economic growth has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty. But, for more than 100 million — as of 2012 when Xi Jinping became China’s senior leader — economic growth was not enough. These poorest of the poor lived in remote, often mountainous regions, and due to history and legacy, they lacked the basic elements of infrastructure, education, healthcare, and the like. Some of these people were in Tibet.
Thus, to alleviate poverty, the Chinese government adopted a series of targeted methods including household relocation, industry and micro-business development, education and healthcare assistance, and pairing support with more developed regions. We focus on the most radical method: complete relocations of poor households and even of whole villages and communities, which China has pioneered. Why is relocation important in Tibet? How does the process work? Is it compulsory? Will relocation alter Tibetan’s original way of life? How do people adjust?
President Xi Jinping makes a remarkable statement about poverty alleviation. He says, “I have spent more energy on poverty alleviation than on anything else.” In 2013, Xi proposed the concept of “targeted” or “precision” poverty alleviation, meaning individualized procedures, including standardized definitions of poverty, identification criteria of poor people, and customized plans and programs to bring each poor household out of poverty.
Tibet epitomizes the impact, where about a half million impoverished people have been lifted out of poverty – of those, over half – more than a quarter million – via relocation to areas with more resources and better infrastructure. According to China’s National Health Commission, the incidence of poverty in Tibet has been reduced from 35.5 percent five years ago to 8 percent today. Healthcare services have increased the average Tibetan life expectancy from barely 35 years in the 1950s to over 68 years today. Prior to 1959, in old Tibet, not a single modern school existed; the enrollment rate for school-age children was less than 2 percent, and the overall illiteracy rate was as high as 95 percent.
Now, Tibet provides free tuition, meals, and accommodation for children from farmer’s and herdsmen’s families, and from poor urban families, to support compulsory education – which in 2012 was extended to 15 years, including three years of pre-school. Tibet was the first region in the country to enact this policy. Poverty alleviation in Tibet, as successful as it is, does not mean that other problems do not exist. But who would dare argue against the priority of poverty alleviation for the Tibetan people, and what it means for improving their present lives and expanding their future prospects?

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