China Raises Poverty Level, Maps Out Reduction Plan

Posted November 30th, 2011 at 9:35 am (UTC-5)
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China has raised its official poverty line, causing more people to qualify as poor despite its booming economy. But researchers in Beijing say the government aims to substantially reduce the number of poor people in the country’s rural areas over the next four years.

Beijing announced a near doubling of its previous poverty line to about $1 a day on Tuesday. That means 128 million Chinese now qualify as poor, or 100 million more than under the previous amount.

The new poverty line is still below the World Bank’s level of $1.25 a day, but the change brings China closer to international norms after three decades of buoyant growth.

Chinese analysts say that as Beijing battles high inflation, and food prices record double-digit growth, more low income people are struggling to survive.

The issue was the main subject of a two-day conference on poverty alleviation that began Tuesday in Beijing.

Zhang Linxiu, deputy director of the Institute for Chinese Agricultural Policy Research under the Academy of Sciences, says those who classify as being below the poverty line are entitled to government aid.

An official in charge of poverty reduction said earlier this month the government has a goal of providing adequate food and clothing for poverty-stricken people while ensuring their access to compulsory education, basic medical services and housing by 2020.