Image credit: @ryklin.
The successors to Chiang Kai Shek’s Kuomintang, driven from mainland China by Mao Zedong’s Red Army, have succeeded in crafting a more equal society in Taiwan than that which exists in the People’s Republic.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping completes his nation’s leadership succession this week, Taiwan may offer a model for his campaign to bridge a wealth gap that threatens to undermine Communist Party legitimacy. Taiwan’s Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality, was 0.342 in 2011 compared with China’s 0.477 and the 0.4 level used as a predictor for social unrest.
Taiwan moved to introduce a national health-insurance program and greater political accountability as growth slowed to less than 10 percent two decades ago. China, which has similar gross domestic product per person to Taiwan in the late 1980s, is seeking to address grievances over land grabs and access to public services in a nation where 90 legislators have wealth of at least 1.8 billion yuan ($290 million).
Low-income households in Taiwan, an island of 23 million people, have had access to free or subsidized health care since the country enacted the National Health Insurance act in 1995. The program provides care financed via a payroll premium paid by companies and employees as well as by government subsidies.
In a poll carried out by the China Youth Daily in November 2011, over 75 percent of respondents said income inequality was the country’s greatest problem. Over 200 million people live below the poverty line in China, over 15 percent of the total population.