'Absolute poverty' eliminated, claims China

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Wed Nov 22 17:47:03 MST 2000

18 November 2000

'Absolute poverty' eliminated, claims China
BEIJING: China announced Friday that it had eliminated "absolute poverty"
but admitted hundreds of millions still faced grim living conditions.
Under Beijing's definitions that means almost no one across the vast country
with a population of 1.13 billion has an annual income of less than 635 yuan
"At present, except for some 26 million disabled people or those living in
extremely bad natural environment areas, we have succeeded in eliminating
absolute poverty in the country," said Gao Hongbin, a leading poverty
alleviation official, quoted by Xinhua news agency.
Only three per cent of the rural population remained impoverished or living
below the 635 yuan standard, making China's rural poverty rate the lowest
among developing nations, Gao said.
He maintained an annual income of 635 yuan, or 22 US cents a day, was enough
money in rural China to enjoy basic necessities, "that is, to have enough to
eat and wear and to have a place to dwell."
But the United Nations and other international organizations such as the
World Bank usually define the poverty threshhold as an income of one dollar
a day or less.
Rural per capita income among China's 870 million rural residents in 1999
was 2,210 yuan, or some 75 US cents a day, according to the national bureau
of statistics.
According to the UN Development Program, China's poverty alleviation
strategy only applies to the rural population and so far there is no
cohesive central government program aimed at alleviating urban poverty.
In 1994, the central government mandated that poverty be eradicated by the
year 2000, and through "hard work and huge investment" the government had
succeeded, Gao said.
"This is the first time in history for China, to solve the food and clothing
problem for all its citizens on the whole, it is a marvelous achievement and
of great epoch making meanings," he chimed.
The Chinese government spent 24.8 billion yuan ($3 billion) on poverty
alleviation in 1999, 30 times more than in 1980, the official said.
"Eliminating absolute poverty on the whole doesn't mean that China's battle
against poverty has come to an end... China will have to cover an even
longer way to ultimately delete poverty within its territory," Xinhua said.
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