China’s progress in 10 years under Xi

China’s progress in 10 years under Xi


Xi Jinping’s China has lifted millions out of extreme poverty, sent spacecraft to the moon and pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The president, who is about to serve a third term, can boast of several achievements in his first 10 years in power, though some come with caveats.

Here, AFP looks at some of the key advances made under Xi:

– End extreme poverty –

The Chinese Communist Party prides itself on being “serving the people,” so Beijing’s announcement in 2020 to end extreme poverty was hailed as a crucial milestone.

People’s living conditions, their livestock and access to education were among the factors assessed by officers during door-to-door visits.

The government said it invested 1.6 trillion yuan ($230 billion) between 2013 and 2021 to improve living standards — such as building roads, houses and infrastructure.

Millions of rural households have been relocated to villages with better economic opportunities.

A year after Xi took office, 82 million Chinese were living in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. In 2019 it was six million.

However, Xi warned in 2020, “The task of consolidating and expanding poverty alleviation gains remains difficult.”

– Wealth increase –

According to official statistics, the average disposable income per urban household rose by 66 percent from 2013 to 2020.

In rural households, it increased by 82 percent over the same period.

Cars per city dwelling doubled from 0.22 in 2012 to 0.45 in 2020, while the number of mobile phones per city household rose from 2.17 to 2.49 over the same period.

However, housing costs have quadrupled, which is having a negative impact on purchasing power.

Migrant workers — people who moved from the countryside to the cities to work — have seen their incomes increase significantly, according to Jean-Louis Rocca, a specialist in Chinese social movements at Sciences Po in Paris.

“But with rent increases, education costs and the need to dress appropriately, their situation, which has improved in medium-sized towns, often stagnates or even worsens in large metropolitan areas,” says Rocca.

– space program –

China’s space program is a source of national pride and has significantly narrowed the gap with the US, Russia and Europe.

Rovers reached the moon in 2013 and 2019 – the latter being the first ever to land softly on its other side.

Another unmanned spacecraft returned to Earth in 2020 with the first lunar samples collected in four decades.

In the same year, the Beidou satellite navigation system, a rival to the American GPS, was completed.

After landing its first robot on Mars last year, China is expected to complete its space station in 2022.

– crackdown on corruption –

From civil servants to government ministers, army generals to bank managers, 11.3 million people were cautioned for disciplinary proceedings between 2012 and 2022, according to the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection, and around 4.7 million were investigated for more serious misconduct.

At least 1.5 million were punished, with the most extreme persecutions being punishable by the death penalty.

A culture of “thrift” has been enforced by Xi — meaning less lavish banquets for party officials, for example.

While the campaign is popular with the public, critics say it is also a way for Xi to take down political rivals.

– The environment –

Beijing signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, and in 2020 Xi pledged that his country would peak in carbon emissions by 2030 and aim for carbon neutrality by 2060.

Environmental groups have urged China – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases – to act faster, saying it would not otherwise be able to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

After decades of turning a blind eye to China’s suffocating cities, the Environment Ministry began releasing more comprehensive air pollution data in 2012.

The concentration of very fine and dangerous particles in the air fell by 34.8 percent between 2015 and 2021, according to the ministry.

Waste separation systems are advancing. In the megacity of Shanghai, for example, they have been mandatory since 2019.

– Transportation –

The length of the high-speed rail network has quadrupled from around 9,300 kilometers in 2012 to 40,000 kilometers in 2021.

China now has 250 civilian airports, 82 of which were built in the last decade, and passenger traffic has doubled between 2012 and 2019.

The infrastructure projects have boosted travel and tourism, boosted the economy and opened up the less developed west of the country.

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