Reforming China's Anti-Poverty Policy from Below

Experiences from Western Hunan

  • Shih Chih-yu (Autor/in)


The relationship between poorpeasants and the state is derived from the unsuccessful introduction of competitive market exchange. The state intervenes unilaterally and in a top-down manner. This relationship creates mistrust and leaves poor peasants in a permanent state of poverty. The official anti-poverty (fu-pin) campaign is a source of in come for the poor peasants, not a step toward modernization. To portray their seemingly dependent mentality as "cultural backwardness" misses the point, however, because the poor peasants' aim of squeezing as much as possible out of the state without being absorbed into the process of modernization is not specifically directed against modernization, but is a result of it. Peasants feel secure only when they can work as members of a collectivity in which everyone shares the burden and the profits equally. Expecting peasants to compete on the market as individuals can therefore only result in sporadic success. Asfor those who prefer to staywhere they are in terms of income, neither the fu-pin teams nor the state willingly recognize their attitude as a legitimate option.