China Wants to Solve Poverty, but Its Own Officials Are Undermining the Efforts
Annie Wu, 13 Jan 18

Party officials routinely embezzle poverty relief funds

A man preparing beans outside his house in a village near the Yellow River in Lankao County, Henan Province, on Sept. 28, 2017. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

Lifting people out of poverty is Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s signature project. His goal is to turn the whole of China into a “xiaokang” society by 2020—a society where people lead comfortable lives with their material needs met.

However, Party officials have found ways to swindle government funding meant for the poor—making the official slogan all the much harder to achieve.

On Jan. 3, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) anti-corruption agency announced that more than ten officials in Zhangjiakou City in Hebei Province would be punished for graft involving poverty relief efforts.

The agency explained that officials were caught faking reports, falsely claiming funds for their own, embezzling money, violating rules for allocating the money, and giving preference to their relatives and friends.

Within the city’s Kangbao County, officials established their own treasury with poverty relief funds.

Women on a street in a migrant village on the outskirts of Beijing, on Sept. 7, 2017. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

The corruption is countrywide. On Dec. 23 last year, the head auditor at the central authorities’ auditor office said that since the beginning of 2017 to October, incidences of misconduct regarding poverty relief involved a total of 970 officials, with 3.2 billion yuan from central authorities misappropriated. 101,800 Chinese citizens were incorrectly identified as in need of poverty relief funds.

Party officials have gotten creative with their means of corruption.

In far-western Qinghai Province, Haidong Prefecture, Hualong County, an official moved “poor” people into a high-end housing property as a part of a project to “relocate the poor.” Those residents were given housing subsidies, but out of 630 households, 232 were not poor. About 11.6 million yuan of government subsidies was embezzled.

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