By the end of last month, all remaining impoverished residents of Hebei province－34,000 people－had been lifted out of poverty, Wang Dongfeng, secretary of the Communist Party of China Hebei Provincial Committee, told a conference on July 4.
Hebei, which surrounds Beijing and Tianjin, was once home to 62 poverty-stricken counties, and more than 2.3 million impoverished people lived in the province, accounting for 3 percent of its population.
Most of the deeply poor counties were in Baoding, Chengde and Zhangjiakou, which all border Beijing. "People in the capital may never think that just outside the city is a very different world," said Yang Meng, deputy head of the Hebei Provincial Poverty Alleviation and Development Office, referring to a common complaint made by people in the counties.
To narrow the gap, efforts to help eradicate poverty have been boosted in recent years.
By the end of last year, all the poor counties had been lifted out of poverty and the number of impoverished residents had fallen to just 34,000.
Their status was amended at the end of last month. "This is the first time in history Hebei has eliminated overall regional poverty in the province," Yang said.
Beijing and Tianjin both contributed a lot of help.
In the six years since a national strategy for the coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei was introduced by the central authorities, the two rich neighbors have invested 4.6 billion yuan ($649 million) in more than 1,600 poverty alleviation projects, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Hebei has also taken steps to help improve living standards.
Last year, 81 agricultural service stations were set up in rural areas and experts were sent to help farmers gain skills.
The stations have helped about 70,000 farmers.
Qiao Zhonghe, a farmer in Chicheng county, Zhangjiakou, has benefited from the guidance and advanced technology.
He works at an agricultural park where vegetables are grown hydroponically. "Nutrients absorbed by vegetables can be calculated accurately and there's real-time monitoring of air and water temperatures," Qiao said.
"It is better to teach us skills, rather than giving us money."
According to Yang, more than 53,000 industrial projects have been established across the province to create job opportunities.
He said about 280,000 impoverished people found stable employment last year.