Poverty is determined by governments as they see fit, so there is every chance that President Xi Jinping’s goal of eradication of poverty for China this year will be attained. Ensuring that Chinese have sustainable livelihoods is a matter beyond mere statistics, though. Infrastructure has a vital role to play, enabling people living in poor and remote parts of the country to have access to markets and goods. Technology companies are an important next step, providing previously unavailable opportunities through their e-commerce platforms and distribution networks. The World Bank has long hailed China’s remarkable alleviation efforts, which have lifted 850 million from extreme poverty since the late 1970s. Xi has pledged to deal with the problem like “a hammer striking a nail” and at the beginning of last year, the number was claimed to be down to just 16.6 million. Most live in the remotest parts of the country, which often have restricted outside access and still do not have electricity or running water. About US$19 billion was spent on infrastructure last year, with more than 200,000km of roads built or reconstructed and 94 per cent of villages classified as being poor connected to the internet. From farm to table – Chinese farmers get help selling produce online Technology and e-commerce firms like Alibaba, the parent company of the South China Morning Post , and group-buying platform Pinduoduo, have an important role in ensuring farmers and villagers can make the most of internet access. With online retail sales to developed parts of the country beginning to stabilise or even slip as economic growth slows and competition intensifies, greater focus has been put on rural areas. The strategy is to provide a nationwide outlet for selling produce and to ensure swift delivery. So far, the outcome has been a textbook model for poverty alleviation and consumerism: wealth is being generated that in turn enables access to goods that were previously unaffordable or difficult to obtain. Success stories abound, among them the woman in a remote town in central Hunan province who began live-streaming about her farm life on an e-commerce site and is now regularly selling out her seasonal harvest of rice and corn online. Regional distribution depots and delivery services are the backbone of such networks. But it would not be possible were it not for so much effort being put into building infrastructure; in the first half of last year, 3 million more rural internet users were added, taking the online rural population to 225 million, 26.3 per cent of the nation’s total. China is well on the way to eradicating poverty. Beijing determines that the goal will be accomplished when standards including access to food, clothing, good living conditions and basic medical treatment have been met. Technology firms and their online platforms have an important role.