A remote Chinese village - home to the Yi ethnic group - is one of the country's key battlegrounds where China's goal to eliminate extreme poverty will be put to the test. Reuters Natalie Thomas reports from the annual Yi Torch Festival, the highlight of the year for many families living a life of hardship.
Tucked away in remote southern China - the so-called 'hard bones' of the country's poverty. The Yi ethnic group have their own language and culture, separate from mainstream Chinese. But being so geographically isolated, many of them are illiterate, with hardly any money or prospects. Nowhere is that more obvious than here, during the traditional games at the Yi torch festival. SOUNDBITE (English) NATALIE THOMAS, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "For the Yi people this is one of the highlights of the year - a traditional festival that hasn't changed for centuries - but away from all the merrymaking, this is a minority that's mired in poverty and years of intervention by the government has failed to change that." Jisi Lazuo is one of many who feel the pressure. She doesn't speak mandarin - the main language spoken in China - and supports a family on her own. (SOUNDBITE) (Yi) JISI LAZUO, SAYING: "I get worried when the torch festival comes along, I see the kids who have money can go and buy the best clothes, the Yi traditional clothes are quite expensive but for my own kids I can only buy whatever I can get." Her home village of Liangshan is one of the key battlegrounds where China's goal to kick poverty will be put to the test. More than 400 thousand people who live in the area are classified as poor, meaning their yearly income is less than 340 dollars. The Communist Party says dragging them and other groups out of hardship one of its most important tasks. And crucial if China is to meet its goal of ending poverty by 2020. But many feel a big shift is needed. While the language barrier and poor schooling remain huge problems here, locals say creating jobs for the minority group would go a lot further than simply throwing money at them.