An Opinion Editorial by the Chinese Ambassador to Maldives H.E. Zhang Lizhong on China's success in eradicating poverty
In February 2019, a NASA study found that China registered the largest increase in forest coverage in the world over the past 25 years, equivalent to the amount of increase of all other countries combined. All countries worldwide are facing the challenge between economic development and ecological protection. Saihanba Forest Farm in China, the winner of the 2017 United Nations "Champions of the Earth Award", has provided a model for the world.
Saihanba is only over 400 kilometers away from Beijing, the capital of China. Sixty years ago, it was a cold, windy, and arid place with serious desertification. The natural environment was very harsh. In order to improve the ecological environment, China started to build Saihanba Forest Farm here, and took decades to build millions of acres of forests. It is worthy to note that in recent years, a campaign of poverty alleviation and ecological promotion is making headway remarkably.
In Saihanba people consider "green development" as the source of energy to fight poverty alleviation. In recent years, Saihanba has been making the most of its millions of acres of forest to develop ecological industries such as greening seedlings. High quality homestay hotels were built, livestock farms constructed, local specialty industry developed. Saihanba established a complete chain of natural product production, distribution and marketing, steadily boosting the income growth of impoverished people.
In 2016, the Saihanba Forest Farm established a work group to help the impoverished people, lifting 210 poor households (609 people in total) out of poverty. Now the average income of the previously poor households amounts to nearly 10,000 yuan (about 23.8 thousand Rufiyaa). The Forest Farm has grown larger and stronger, and the total revenue has increased from less than 100,000 yuan to 160 million yuan.
The Forest Farm promotes coordinated regional development through ecological construction, benefiting nearly 40,000 people. The afforestation project can provide locals with more than 4,000 jobs every year, benefiting over 3,200 people, with the average income of 15,000 yuan. The move also boosted the local forest industry, scoring an annual revenue of 200 million yuan.
In August 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping praised the Saihanba Forest Farm as "a vivid example of promoting ecological civilization".
In December of the same year, Saihanba won the 2017 United Nations "Champions of the Earth Award", the highest honor for environmental protection achievements.
On February 25, 2021, Saihanba won another prize at the commendation meeting for poverty alleviation held in China.
Saihanba embodies China’s “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” philosophy, and proves that China consistently adheres to the policy of resource conservation and environmental protection. China firmly follows the path of ecological development while carrying out poverty alleviation.
In China, all impoverished people are lifted out of poverty, contributing greatly to the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, an average of more than 10 million people have been lifted out of poverty each year, equivalent to the population of a medium-sized country. Like Saihanba, more than 1.1 million poor people across the country became forest keepers, protecting the natural environment and earning good income. For millions of people, thanks to this policy, their fate was changed, dreams realized and great future accomplished.