China has big plans for 2017, including moving 3.4 million people living in poverty into more developed communities as part of their ambitious vow to stamp out poverty in the country by 2020.
Even for China, this would be an impressive feat. Last year, 2.49 million people from poverty-stricken communities were relocated to areas with better social services, like schools and hospitals, or with better roads and water supply, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said.
While China has managed to end urban poverty through development and government subsidies, the rapid pace of the country’s economic growth has left many behind in the countrysides. Millions have been forced to leave their home villages to find work in cities, leaving behind their children who often suffer from lack of schools and healthcare.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to leave nobody behind in creating a “moderately prosperious society,” promising to end extreme poverty in China by 2020. Considering that there are still an estimated 45 million in China living on less than 3,000 yuan a year, that is quite an ambitious goal.
But, of course, China has gained a reputation for lifting its citizens out of poverty. Since “Reform and Opening Up” in 1978, the World Bank credits China with raising some 800 million people out of poverty, a fact that Beijing often points at to legitimize its rule and counter charges of human rights abuses.
At the same time that Beijing is trying to end poverty, it is also seeing the wealth gap widen in its country. A report from Peking University last year warned that China has reached a dangerous level of income inequality that bodes ill for the country’s social stability, with the top 1% of society now owning a third of Chinese wealth.
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