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People's Daily Online>>China Society

China takes a tough line on poverty

By He Dan (China Daily)

08:35, November 30, 2011

Ten-year-old Jiao Qiang scavenges for a living at a landfill in Guiyang, Guizhou province. The country raised its poverty threshold to 2,300 yuan a year amid rising inflation and living costs. Photo by Wang Jing / China Daily; Graphic by Guillermo Munro / China Daily

BEIJING - 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 ($361) 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 School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development of Renmin University of China.

"Only 2.8 percent of the rural population was officially considered poor, which was lower than many 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.

Yang Maobao, 52, from a village in Shuicheng county, Southwest China's Guizhou province, is one of those expected to benefit from the new policy.
She raises three grandsons with her husband and relies on a yearly income of 4,000 yuan earned from selling crops and vegetables.

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