China celebrates official end of extreme poverty, lauds Xi

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Xinhua

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, attendees applaud during a ceremony to mark the official end of extreme poverty in China held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The ruling Communist Party is celebrating the official end of extreme poverty in China with a propaganda campaign that praises President Xi Jinping's role, adding to efforts to cement his image as a history-making leader who is reclaiming his country's rightful place as a global power. (Yan Yan/Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING – The ruling Communist Party is celebrating the official end of extreme poverty in China with a propaganda campaign that praises President Xi Jinping’s role, part of efforts to cement his image as a history-making leader who is reclaiming his country’s rightful place as a global power.

The propaganda apparatus has been linking national successes to Xi, including fighting the coronavirus, China’s rise as a technology creator and December’s successful lunar mission to bring back moon rocks.

The party announced in November, with little fanfare, that China no longer had anyone in extreme poverty. That was down from an official estimate of almost 99 million living on annual incomes of less than 2,300 yuan ($355) per person a decade ago.

The full-scale propaganda campaign launched this month has filled state-controlled newspapers and airwaves with reports on the anti-poverty milestone and Xi's personal role in it.

They credit Xi with launching an initiative shortly after taking power in 2012 that enabled China to beat by a decade the 2030 target set by the World Bank for eliminating extreme poverty. A report by the party newspaper People’s Daily this week on the “historic leap” refers to Xi by his full name and title as party leader 121 times.

“General Secretary Xi Jinping has stood at the strategic height of building a well-off society in an all-around way and realizing the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” the newspaper said.

The event gives the ruling party a political trophy ahead of this year’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of its 1921 founding. It comes at a time when China's economy is growing again following the coronavirus while the United States, Europe and other areas are still struggling with outbreaks.

The party said it reached the milestone despite having to take the unprecedented step of shutting down most of China’s economy in early 2020 to fight the coronavirus.