Caixin
Sep 23, 2016 07:16 PM

Government Plans Massive Relocation to Fight Poverty

(Beijing) — Chinese authorities said it will spend 950 billion yuan ($142.4 billion) to relocate about 16 million people out of poor areas nationwide as China strives to meet its poverty eradication goal by 2020, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.

But only 9.8 million of those to be moved are below the poverty line, earning less than $2 a day, while the others have been ordered to move as part of the government relocation program.

Families from 1,400 rural counties in 22 provinces will be affected, said Yang Qian, a senior official from the National Development and Reform Commission, at an internal meeting. But the country's top economic planner did not give any details about where these families will be resettled or what type of compensation they will get. Yang only said "the people will be fully consulted over where they will go."

About 3.2 million chosen for relocation were living in areas affected by severe desertification, soil erosion, water depletion and extreme cold weather, Yang said. Another 3.4 million were being relocated because they lacked access to basic infrastructure, education and medical care in their areas. Others being moved have had their livelihoods affected by natural disasters or were living in government-sanctioned nature reserves, Yang said.

Regional authorities are being required to cough up nearly 360 billion yuan to fund the move, Xinhua said.

Authorities will offer job training and livelihood support for resettled families and provide a pension and medical insurance, Yang said.

In some impoverished regions, poverty has much to do with the natural environment, geographical location and even history, said Professor Tao Ran from the School of Economics at Renmin University in Beijing.

"It will be counterproductive if authorities insist on tying them to their (impoverished) land when fighting poverty," he said.

Contact reporter Li Rongde (rongdeli@caixin.com); editor Poornima Weerasekara (poornima@caixin.com)

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