|▶Has China Really Defeated Extreme Poverty? (2021-04-20)|
China opened the yearly meeting of its top legislative advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, on Thursday. The CPPCC leader praised President Xi Jinping’s government’s COVID-19 response and reported, in his words, “an all-round victory” in China’s fight against poverty.
Last week, President Xi made similar comments in a ceremony celebrating the progress on poverty reduction. He declared extreme poverty had been ended in China.
"All 98.99 million people who are the poor rural population have been taken out of poverty,” he said.
In 2012, Xi began a plan that has helped China go beyond the World Banks’s 2030 target for ending extreme poverty.
Official media broadcast the ceremony last week to millions of people. Xi told citizens that the government had spent about $246 billion, to fight poverty over the last eight years.
Xi said these people no longer need to worry about being able to buy food and clothes. He also said the government will guarantee healthcare, housing and education.
The People’s Daily, official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), called the ending of poverty “historic.”
However, in defining poverty, China continues to use the World Bank’s measure for establishing the world’s poorest countries. But the World Bank considers China among upper-middle-earning economies. Also, China defines a person who lives in rural poverty as someone who lives on $1.69 each day, reports Reuters. The World Bank defines it as someone who lives on $1.90 each day.
In looking at the Chinese economy, Brookings Institution economist Indermit Gill wrote that measuring progress using the official poverty lines of the world’s poorest countries is the “very definition of underachievement.”
Xi and the official media remained largely silent about more than forty years of market-style economic reforms that began with opening China to foreign investment after the Cultural Revolution.
As 2020 closed, Martin Raiser of the World Bank told the New York Times that while he believes China has ended poverty in rural areas, he questioned if the situation would continue and if the measures in place are cost-effective.
The government created jobs for rural workers, gave animals to farmers, and put lots of money into poor rural areas, reported the Times.
Xi's declaration of the end of poverty in China conflicted with a statement by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last May.
“There are over 600 million people whose monthly income is barely $140, not enough to rent a room in Chinese cities,” he said at his yearly press conference.
[March 06, 2021]