Apart from benefiting own people, China’s poverty reduction plan has immensely helped many developing countries, particularly the neighbours, said Yi Fan, a current affairs commentator based in Beijing. “China hosted a seminar on poverty policy and practice for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2007. Similar exchanges and projects on development cooperation have been carried out with the five South Asian nations as well as under the China-SAARC framework, including sub-national poverty reduction exhibitions, construction of roads, airports and schools, and vocational and agro-tech training programmes,” Yi Fan said. He said earlier this year, China declared the eradication of extreme poverty. By 2012, China had 832 counties and 128,000 villages which were listed as priority targets for the nationwide anti-poverty campaign. “The enormity of the task is mind-boggling. So not unexpectedly, when China announced the end of extreme poverty, the news was met by scrutiny and disbelief in some quarters. Questions have been raised about the reliability of the figures, the adequacy of the poverty standard and the cost-effectiveness of the effort,” he added. Yi Fan said China’s anti-poverty success can be explained by what may be called a L-E-A-P strategy (i.e., Leadership, Empowerment, All-sector participation and Paired assistance). “Hopefully some elements of the strategy can help other developing countries move faster towards the Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty in all its forms by 2030,” he added. According to Chinese President Xi Jinping, 98.99 million rural residents have been lifted out of poverty in the past eight years, bringing the total number of Chinese escaping poverty in the last four decades to 770 million, which accounted for over 70 percent of poverty reduction worldwide. “This also means that China met the poverty reduction goal in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda ten years ahead of schedule. We should not forget the fact that China has contributed the most in world poverty alleviation in the past decade,” noted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Liu Yongfu, director of the government agency overseeing the effort, told reporters last year that the threshold for extreme poverty was set at 4,000 RMB yuan ($628) per annum. Slightly above the World Bank benchmark of $1.9 a day, it was “only part of the package”, according to Liu. “The government also guarantees proper food and clothing, safe housing, free education for children and essential medical services.” Yi Fan said the government channelled 1.6 trillion yuan ($251 billion) into this endeavor, roughly one-sixth of the GDP created by the world’s second largest economy in 2020. “Yet poverty alleviation shouldn’t and can’t be the business of the government alone. China’s corporate sector invested over 1 trillion yuan ($157 billion) in the poverty-stricken areas. Many companies made donations to rebuild ramshackle dwellings, create funds that rewarded work on village roads or set up convenience stores that sold daily necessities at reduced prices. What did they get in return? A debt of gratitude and millions of potential customers,” he added. The international expert said China has reason to be proud of what it has accomplished, but the battle is far from over. “By delivering what it has promised, the CPC is driving up expectations. Today, people in Liangshan and Xihaigu no longer worry about whether there are enough pants or what to put on the dinner table. They want better education for their children, more accessible healthcare and more comfortable nursing homes. As the CPC celebrates its centenary on July 1st, it must embark on another mammoth task to raise living standards for all Chinese and lift hundreds of millions into middle-income status,” he added. Yi Fan said China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh all have great development potential. “They have much to offer each other and contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Their foreign ministers agreed at a recent virtual meeting to create a China-South Asia poverty reduction and development cooperation center to share best practices,” he further said. “China will host a forum on the role of e-commerce in reducing rural poverty and post-Covid economic recovery. No one should be left behind as the world embraces a better, shared future. China and South Asia are natural partners and there is a lot that can be achieved together,” he concluded.