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Taking a tough line on poverty

[ 2011-11-30 16:24]     字号 [] [] []  
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With the stroke of a pen, nearly 100 million more people in China were deemed poor as the country modified its definition of poverty to bring it more in line with international standards.

The move will also put more people in rural areas under the government's poverty aid network.

A rural resident with a yearly net income of less than 2,300 yuan will now be considered living in poverty. The threshold, lifted from 1,196 yuan in 2009, translates into slightly less than $1 a day.

The revision will boost the number of people deemed poor to 128 million from 26.88 million last year, said Hong Tianyun, a spokesman for the Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development under the State Council.

"The previous poverty line underestimated the number of poor people in rural China," said Wang Sangui, a professor at the Renmin University of China.

"Only 2.8 percent of the rural population was officially considered poor, which was lower thanmany developed countries such as the United States, which has a poverty rate of about 15 percent."

The new poverty threshold better reflects the situation in China and brings more resources to poverty-stricken regions, Wang said.

The poverty line applies only to rural areas.

After China's revision of the poverty line, more people will be covered by the government's poverty reduction fund, which will amount to 27 billion yuan this year, a 21-percent annual increase.

Ardo Hansson, World Bank lead economist for China, said the higher poverty line will help focus policy attention on the right target group given China's current level of development.

Hansson said the enhanced poverty line will enable more rural households who were previously considered "low income" (but not poor) to gain access to benefits and programs for poor households.

The new threshold is another step to catch up with the international standard, which the World Bank revised to $1.25 a day in 2008.

Senior Chinese leaders convened on Tuesday to map out efforts to alleviate poverty in the country's rural areas over the next decade as the government tries to narrow a widening wealth gap.

The government strives for providing adequate food and clothing for poverty-stricken people while ensuring their access to compulsory education, basic medical services and housing by 2020, said President Hu Jintao.

(中国日报网英语点津 Rosy 编辑)

Taking a tough line on poverty

About the broadcaster:

Taking a tough line on poverty

Emily Cheng is an editor at China Daily. She was born in Sydney, Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Media, English Literature and Politics. She has worked in the media industry since starting university and this is the third time she has settled abroad - she interned with a magazine in Hong Kong 2007 and studied at the University of Leeds in 2009.