Over the past two decades, China has attempted to wipe out dissent, cleavage and satire within its borders; however, there is one thing that the country has excelled at eliminating above all — poverty.
On Sunday, the World Bank released a new report on the reduction of worldwide poverty. According to the report, from 1990 to 2013, the percentage of the world’s population living in extreme poverty fell from 35% to 11%. The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 a day, adjusted for local prices.
However, not all regions around the globe have managed to eradicate poverty equally. In 1990, over 60% of people in East Asia lived in extreme poverty. 23 years later, that percentage was just 3.5%.
Often when faced with accusations of human rights abuse, Beijing has pointed instead to its historic record in eliminating poverty. Since Reform and Opening up in 1978, the World Bank credits China with lifting some 800 million people out of poverty. At a teleconference event discussing the new report, Ana Revenga, senior director on poverty and quality at the World Bank, once again stressed how China could serve an example for the rest of the world.
“Much of the success in poverty reduction globally has actually been driven by China’s incredible success in reducing poverty,” she said, Xinhua points out. “If anybody can show the world how to do that last mile [of ending extreme poverty], it probably is China.”
Even with China’s help, going that last mile will be incredible difficult. While recent efforts at reducing poverty have been enormously successful (114 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty between 2012 to 2013), the World Bank isn’t optimistic about achieving the goal of totally ending extreme poverty by 2030. The organization cites the challenges faced in further reducing poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, along with the rise of inequality in wealthy nations around the world.
Of course, China likely won’t be showing the world how to reduce inequality any time soon.