China economy

Xi Jinping tours Guangzhou after highlighting wealth gap on visit to poorer areas

  • President’s visit to Guangdong continues, having taken in its impoverished districts in show of commitment to one of his signature goals
  • Xi calls on grass-roots party officials to speed up modernisation while boosting rural economic development and infrastructure
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2018, 11:40am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2018, 5:17pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Guangzhou on Wednesday afternoon on the fourth leg of his much-anticipated trip south ahead of the 40th anniversary of the country’s reform and opening up.

After attending the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on Tuesday, Xi also visited Guangdong province’s impoverished backwaters, pledging that “no one would be left behind” in his poverty alleviation campaign.

State television reported that Xi had visited an old district of Guangzhou, the provincial capital, and asked about cultural heritage protection works.

A motorcade believed to be that of Xi also visited the campus of Jinan University in Guangzhou in late afternoon, according to a South China Morning Post reporter at the scene. The campus had been under heavy security since the morning.

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Earlier on Wednesday, the president was in the tech hub of Shenzhen, where he visited an exhibition commemorating Guangdong’s pioneering part in the reforms, in which Xi’s late father Xi Zhongxun played an early steering role.

Xi had then visited the pilot economic zone of Qianhai, confirming earlier reports by the Post. A motorcade arrived at the Qianhai zone’s exhibition hall after 11am.

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Security was high from dawn onwards in Shenzhen, with a heavy presence of uniformed police and plain-clothes personnel at both venues.

At the Shenzhen Reform and Opening-Up Exhibition, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Planning Exhibition, blockades were in place from about 8am on Wednesday, while a police officer in Qianhai told the Post he had been on duty since 5am.

Xi’s visit to the impoverished parts of Guangdong on Tuesday was seen as highlighting China’s efforts to eliminate extreme poverty by 2020 by resolving development gaps between rural and urban areas, one of the major national policies he has championed.

Guangdong, which has severe income disparity between the affluent Pearl River Delta and rural residents in its west and north, has been targeted because it has one of China’s biggest wealth gaps.

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After leaving the opening ceremony of the 55km (34-mile) mega bridge in Zhuhai, Xi headed north to visit the city of Yingde on Tuesday afternoon.

According to Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, he made a stop at Lianjiangkou township in Yingde city, where he said that “no one would be left behind” in China’s drive to eradicate extreme poverty.

It was reported that Xi had spent the afternoon with workers in a toy factory and local households. The president reportedly called on grass-roots party officials to speed up modernisation while boosting rural economic development and infrastructure.

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“We believe the livelihood of our rural residents will be happier as days go by,” Xi was quoted as saying.

He also made a stop at Yingde e-commerce market, where he chatted with students at a training centre. He called for targeted poverty alleviation measures to turn “weakness into potential” while fostering balanced regional development in the delta’s backwaters.

The Guangdong provincial government released its own three-year plan this month to eradicate extreme poverty.

During the 19th party national congress in October last year, Xi said the fight against poverty was one of “three tough major battles” that the country had to win to build an all-round well-off society by 2020.

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To achieve this, China needs to lift about 30 million rural residents out of extreme poverty.

Guangdong is China’s richest province but there are still 2,277 villages and 1.76 million people there that are considered to be “relatively poor”.

Additional reporting by Choi Chi-yuk, He Huifeng and Phoebe Zhang