China’s ‘Pairing assistance program’, a role model for uplifting Baluchistan

By Sara Afzel

China’s efforts to eliminate extreme poverty include pairing cities in the more affluent east, with areas in the more impoverished west. These areas get financial support as well as assistance like talent acquisition
China has been implementing the “pairing assistance” program in Xinjiang since 1997,channeling financial, technical and human resource support in various fields to Xinjiang from other regions of the country. In 2010, a new round of pairing assistance was launched, involving central and state organs, centrally administered state-owned enterprises, and 19 provinces and municipalities.Since then, around 17,000 talents and cadres have come from afar to aid Xinjiang. The region has eradicated extreme poverty under the nationwide program.
Since the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) was adopted in 2016, China’s Jiangsu and Jiangxi Provinces have made 221 projects and allocated 3.86 billion yuan (545 million U.S. dollars) to help Xinjiang shake off poverty. Among them, 110 projects and 802 million yuan (113 million U.S. dollars) were arranged to help Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture, and over 80 percent of the money were used to improve people’s livelihood.Under China’s pairing assistance program, Jiangsu and Jiangxi Provinces have been not only helping the area to achieve prosperity but the pairing assistance programs have contributed to poverty alleviation and improvement of people’s livelihood in Xinjiang , promoted ethnic solidarity, showcasing political advantages of the CPC’s leadership and institutional strength of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture, located in the west of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, is the main battlefield in the fight against poverty in Xinjiang and one of the hardest nuts to crack in China’s poverty reduction campaign.Established in 1954, Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture is located in the west of Xinjiang and borders Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the north and west. The prefecture covers 72,500 square kilometers in area, 90 percent of which are mountainous.With a population of 640,000, it consists of 11 ethnic groups, including the Uygur, the Kirghiz, the Han and the Tajik. Irkeshtan and Turgart ports are famous in the region as both are important passages of the ancient “Silk Road,” and key stations along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Irkeshtan Port is the westernmost tip of China.
In the prefecture, 77.78 percent (28 out of 36) of the towns are considered severe poverty-stricken towns and 80.75 percent of the villages (214 out of 265) are poor, with a registered impoverished population of 250,962 at the end of 2019.In 2020, the region plans to get 11,677 people and 38 villages out of poverty.
Jiangsu Province has helped improve the infrastructure construction in the place, and built industrial parks in Artux City and Ulugqat and Akqi counties, attracting 129 enterprises and offering jobs for over 6,200 people.
Jiangxi Province has constructed agricultural, scientific and technological demonstration park, a textile and apparel industry park and a small and micro business incubation park in Akto county, attracting 86 enterprises and getting over 4,000 people employed. The assistance of the two provinces have also covered education area: 629 million yuan (88.9 million U.S. dollars) were allocated to improve bilingual education and 385 teaching staff was sent to Kizilsu Kirghiz. In addition, 354 million yuan (50 million U.S. dollars) have been invested in building bilingual schools, vocational schools and middle schools here.
The creative pairing assistance program has worked well in Xinjiang and its success has been considered a role model for other countries, especially neighbor, Pakistan.Since China has done wonders in its poorest of region Xinjiang, its governance model, methods and strategies are worth copying, particularly for Baluchistan’s uplift. Xinjiang’s experience can be copied by other provinces and cities of Pakistan to help Baluchistan, the federal government can pair Lahore with Quetta or Peshawar with Awaran, for example, allocating a certain amount of money for poverty alleviation program in these areas on a yearly basis.Baluchistanitself is very rich in natural resources but lacks in education and technicalfacilities. By overcoming these problems we can use the resources much productively.The development of one province is not only the development of “only one specific area”, but a mile stone in the development of a country. Even in those schools where the focus is on “Every Child’s Progress” this “peer checking” and “Pairing to learn” strategies are adopted so that no one can be left behind and everyone enjoys Process of Learning and Progression.
This same strategy is adopted by China and they achieved what would practically be considered“a Miracle”. Eradicating poverty is a process which can not be done by the Central Government only, it is a Collective effort of all stake holders of the Country, this needs not only resources but consistent strategy and planning. China sets an example, gives a successful Role model now it’s time for us to learn and implement it so that all of our citizens no matter how far they live from the center, can get the equal opportunities, that’s how the mechanism and process of development and prosperity can be successful.