Ahead of Lunar New Year celebrations in China, Chinese President Xi Jinping has told the country’s working class that he will banish the “ghosts” of poverty in the country.
As is custom, Xi is currently making inspections trips around the country before the holiday in order to highlight important policy initiatives.
In the mountainous part of Sichuan province, Xi met the ethnic Yi people, with one villager telling him that she used to believe ghosts were the cause of illness, state media reported on Monday.
It was in response to this, that the Chinese president told her they would exorcise the ghosts.
“In the past we did have ghosts - the ghosts of ignorance, backwardness and poverty,” Xi said, reported Reuters.“If we can resolve these problems then the ghosts will vanish. If there is culture, knowledge and hygiene, then our prosperous life can resolve these difficulties and then how can there be any ghosts?”
The Yi, who speak a language similar to Burmese, are one of China’s 55 officially recognized minorities.
Xi has made eradicating poverty a cornerstone of his policies, pledging to completely eradicate poverty in the country by 2020. China has already managed to bring an overwhelming 800 million people out of poverty in less than 40 years.
In addition, it became the first country in the world in 2015 to accomplish the UN millennium development goal of reducing poverty by half.
China has also been a leader on a number of other fronts.
The country plans to invest US$366 billion in renewable energy technologies by 2020, creating more than 13 million jobs, and placing Beijing at the forefront of clean energy innovation, according to the Chinese National Energy Administration.
In addition, its Belt and Road Initiative, called “the largest single infrastructure program in human history,” currently involves 68 countries and 1,700 development projects all over the world.