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2020-01-08 10:20:10

Around 80 million residents in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu are now above the poverty line — all except 17 individuals.

Local authorities announced Tuesday that 99.99% of the province’s population had been lifted out of poverty, the Yangtse Evening News reported. According to the provincial government, 2.54 million people in Jiangsu have been lifted out of poverty over the past four years, leaving just 17 people from six households still living below the poverty line.

In an interview with The Beijing News, an unnamed official from Jiangsu’s poverty alleviation office insisted that the figure was accurate as of Dec. 31. “In another week, this statistic may change — some people will be lifted out of poverty, while others might return to poverty,” the official said. “However, there won’t be large fluctuations.” The official added that four of the 17 people were impoverished due to poor health.

According to a national standard, any individual in China earning less than 2,300 yuan ($331) annually — or around $1 a day — is considered impoverished, though Jiangsu’s provincial standard is 6,000 yuan. The World Bank’s poverty benchmark, meanwhile, is $1.90 a day, or just under $700 a year.

In 2015, China initiated a massive poverty alleviation drive, with President Xi Jinping pledging to lift the entire country out of poverty by 2020. Authorities have since launched a wide range of campaigns to improve people’s livelihoods, including relocation projects, donation drives, and even commercial livestreaming.

The country has already lifted 740 million people out of poverty since 1978, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. However, there were still an estimated 16.6 million people in China earning less than 2,300 yuan annually at the end of 2018. (Image: Tuchong)