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309 40 Take Effective Measures to Lift Impoverished Areas Out of Poverty1 November 14–19, 1995 This is my third visit to Guangxi since I started working at the State Council. In 1993 I came on a study visit, last year I came for disaster relief, and this year I’m here to visit impoverished families. I really feel that despite suffering from major natural disasters, Guangxi has been developing very quickly, and changes have taken place in all areas. Of course Guangxi still has serious difficulties , especially in antipoverty work. The Autonomous Region has a population of 45 million, of which more than 7 million are impoverished. A considerable number of people in the Dashi Mountains area in particular lack the basic conditions for subsistence, and the task of antipoverty work is an onerous one. In the course of economic development, there are fairly large regional differences and a large gap between the rich and poor—this has always been a major social problem. If this problem remains unresolved for a long time, it will cause social tensions to grow worse and affect our entire economic development. This point has now become increasingly clear. Deng Xiaoping once pointed out two things. The first was that we should allow some people and some regions to get rich first. The other thing was that we should get rich together. How rich should those who get rich first be before we talk about getting rich together? I don’t agree with the argument that once some people and some regions get rich first, the problem of the gap between rich and poor will be solved rapidly. I feel that they haven’t experienced how difficult life is for people in impoverished areas. We’ve all studied Deng Xiaoping’s ideas, and nobody has said that we should sacrifice the economies of rich areas to enable us to get rich together. But we all live within the big family of the People’s Republic of China, and there are 70 million impoverished people in this big family. They are very poor, they are widely dispersed, and many are living in minority areas and border areas. If 1. From November 14 to 19, 1995, Zhu Rongji went to the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region for an inspection tour of the Nanning-Kunming railroad construction project, the old revolutionary area of Baise, and the impoverished areas of Hechi and the Dashi Mountains. These are highlights of remarks he made during the visit. 310 Take Effective Measures to Lift Impoverished Areas Out of Poverty we don’t handle this well, we’ll have episodes of instability that will affect the progress of our entire economic development. Therefore we must have a wellrounded and correct understanding of Deng Xiaoping’s ideas. Poverty is a type of historical phenomenon, much of which is due to historical factors. Yet it has been several decades since New China was established, and things should have changed more rapidly, yet it is hard to bring rapid change to the poor, and many of those who were lifted out of poverty have fallen back into it. I hear that after moving down from the mountains, some farmers could not acclimate and went back on their own. There are issues here of ethnic customs or lifestyle, and these are not so easy to resolve. I feel that a fundamental problem must be addressed here, and that is the problem of education, the problem of people’s caliber. Without raising the caliber of people, it will be hard to have good results no matter how much outside effort is applied. Developing education remains a fundamental problem, and it’s also one that isn’t easy to solve quickly—it will take some time. The Party Central Committee and State Council have a series of policies for alleviating poverty. What kind of obligations do we in government have, from the central to the local levels—what kind of work should we do? As I understand it, the most important ones are as follows. 1. Tilt Key Construction Projects toward the Impoverished Areas As the national economy develops, the country’s key construction projects should be gradually tilted toward the impoverished areas, toward the central and western regions, and toward the interior. Because the coastal region has its advantages—the caliber of its people is relatively high, and the interior cannot compare with it in the levels of education, science, and technology—it is bound to get rich...

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