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Shizhu Turns Extreme Poverty to Moderate Prosperity

By TRUMAN PENGICHONGQING|Sep 25,2020

Editor’s Note: This is the ninth of a series of reports on poverty alleviation in the city’s 14 impoverished counties and districts. 2020 marks the final stage of China’s war against poverty alleviation and the aim to build a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, the Chongqing Municipal Information Office organized 14 press conferences to showcase each county and district’s poverty alleviation efforts and achievements.

Jian Zexi, secretary of the CPC Shizhu County Committee, and Zuo Jun, mayor of Shizhu County, attend the press conference. (Chongqing Release/Zou Le)

Chongqing- As of the end of 2019, Chongqing’s Shizhu County had seen a total of 85 poor villages, 17,229 poor households, and 62,391 poor people lifted out of extreme poverty, with its poverty occurrence rate dropping from 12.7% in 2014 to a mere 0.23%, Shizhu County Party Chief Jian Zexi told a press conference on Wednesday.

Located to the southern bank of the Yangtze River in east Chongqing, the Shizhu Tujia Autonomous County has long been held as a place of unique cultures and history. Twenty-nine ethnic minority groups are living in Shizhu, with the Tujia ethnic group being the largest one, accounting for more than 79% of the county’s half a million registered population. Due to various reasons, it was also one of the poorest counties in the Wuling Mountain area.

“In April 2019, Shizhu officially withdrew from the national impoverished counties list, and was later awarded the National Organization Innovation Award for Poverty Alleviation,” said Jian. Nowadays, in Shizhu, “every town has its poverty relief industries, every village has its employment projects, and every family has its small businesses.”

These were all made possible by the local government’s unremitting efforts to improve the county’s infrastructure, such as transportation, water resources, electricity, communications, and living environment, to guarantee the local residents’ basic needs, such as employment, education, healthcare, and housing, and to nurture the local specialty industries, such as livestock, vegetables, herbal medicines, and agritourism, according to Jian.

The file photo shows the new look of a relocation settlement for poor households.

For instance, the shuttle bus coverage rate in all administrative towns and townships has reached 100%; 31 associations have been set up to ensure the 100% accessibility to safe running water; the financial aid coverage rate for the county’s poor students has reached 100%, a total of 560 smartphones has also been provided to help the poorest few continue online courses during the COVID-19 pandemic; the documentation rate for individual health record among poor households have reached 100%; a total of 12,329 households living in ramshackle houses have been relocated to newly built apartments.

What’s more, Shizhu also introduced top enterprises to help develop the county’s specialty industries and to create more employment opportunities for local residents. According to the latest count, as of now, the county has a total of 9,787 poor households growing high-efficiency specialty agricultural produce, 7,100 poor households selling agricultural produce via e-commerce platforms, another 6,000 poor households making a living in developing agritourism, and 10,099 more poor households earning a decent income through local employment programs.

“Next, we will further push ahead with the organic integration of poverty alleviation and rural rejuvenation, building Shizhu into a national demonstration county for ecological sustainability and economic development,” Jian added at the end of the press conference.

A local resident shows the freshly picked chilies he had grown in the fields.

From Aug. 25 to Oct. 20, the 14 counties and districts of Wanzhou, Qianjiang, Wulong, Fengdu, Xiushan, Kaizhou, Yunyang, Wushan, Fengjie, Shizhu, Chengkou, Wuxi, Youyang, and Pengshui will come forward and hold press conferences on their progress in poverty alleviation.

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