China Raises Poverty Line: Is it Setting an Example for Poverty Alleviation?
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
China announced a new standard for defining poverty on Tuesday as it seeks to bridge the gap between the country’s wealthier and poorer classes. The central authorities have decided to raise the poverty threshold to 2,300 yuan ($362), in terms of a farmer’s annual net income, which marks an 80 percent rise from the 1,274 yuan standard in 2010. The 2010 figure was itself the result of marked revision; the standard was 206 yuan in 1986, before being raised to 1,067 yuan in 2008.
There were, officially, 27 million rural poor in China in 2010. The new definition of the poverty line will see an astronomical increase in that figure, with 128 million people set to qualify for government subsidies, according to experts. The government is already battling high inflation and food prices have hit double-digit growth, meaning that increasing numbers of low-income families are struggling to make ends meet.
“The extraordinary achievements China has made in poverty alleviation have contributed to promoting economic development, political stability, ethnic unity, border security and social harmony, as well as the global anti-poverty drive,” President Hu Jintao stated, while speaking at a national poverty alleviation meeting Tuesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“By 2020, our general target is to ensure the nation’s impoverished will no longer need to worry about food and clothing,” he said, adding that “the annual net income growth of the farmers in poverty-stricken regions will be higher than the national average by 2020. Public services for them will also near the national level.”
China’s spending on poverty reduction increased from 12.75 billion yuan in 2001 to 34.93 billion yuan in 2010, representing an average annual growth rate of 11.9 percent. In addition, China has released its outline for poverty reduction and development for the next 10 years.
“China has lifted hundreds of millions of its own citizens out of poverty,” said UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell. “We are hugely respectful of what China has done and what China has achieved for its own people.”