November 17th, 2011
09:03 AM GMT
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China has reported a dramatic decrease in rural poverty over the last decade.

The number of rural citizens living below the national rural poverty line fell from 94.2 million people (10.2% of the rural population) in 2000, to 26.88 million (2.8%) last year, according to figures released Wednesday by China’s State Council.

The sharp drop occurred despite the fact the national rural poverty benchmark was raised from 865 yuan (US$136) in 2000 to 1,274 yuan (US$201) in 2010.

The Council’s white paper evaluates the government’s “Development-Oriented Poverty Reduction Programs,” a wide range of rural policies, such as agricultural subsidies, social security measures, and improved infrastructure for access to water, electricity, and transportation.

“Wage growth is the key to understanding this whole development in China,” said Duncan Innes-Ker, Beijing-based senior editor and economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Ker said the dramatic decrease “doesn’t shock him at all” citing the “phenomenal scale of income growth,” whereby average annual incomes are growing at rates of 15-20%.

“Even the poor have been experiencing very strong growth in incomes…in the last five years, the supply of unskilled or semi-skilled labor is starting to fall short of demand, so wages for those labor classes have been growing very fast,” he added.

Previously, the supply of rural labor in cities greatly outstripped demand, keeping wages low.

“Urbanization and migration to Tier 1 and 2 cities are major reasons behind the reduced rate of rural poverty, as they result in increased annual incomes for rural citizens,” echoed Wang Sangui, professor at School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at Renmin University in Beijing.

Whilst wage growth certainly supports the reduction of poverty, it should be pointed that rural migration to the cities is not a government poverty reduction program, at least not directly.

Innes-Ker warned that “even if incomes are rising rapidly, the cost of living is also rising rapidly. I’m not sure if the government has adjusted its policies to take that into account.”

He said there is a suspicion amongst many in China that the Consumer Price Index is rising more slowly than the cost of living and that the rate of inflation is under-accounted in official figures.

Wang said the challenge of reducing China’s poverty rate will grow in the future, given the widening income disparity in China.

“Even though the economy is still growing, the efficiency of poverty alleviation is slowing down, and in the next 20-30 years, the government will not be able to make as significant progress in reducing poverty. Over the long-term, the most efficient way for China to eradicate poverty is to increase its social welfare policies and investment in human capital, for example, through education and medical care.”

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soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Ali salman

    well done china :)

    November 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  2. Troll_buster

    You will see the usual China-haters, LordOfNarina from Vietnam, and others from India here soon, preaching anti-Chinese racial slurs.

    November 18, 2011 at 4:39 am |
  3. Dr Ian Weber

    No-one believes statistics coming out of China. I've studied this country for 20 years and there is one golden rule: don't believe anything the government says. Tell us how these statistics were generated and what relevance do they have to the growing middle class whose income continues to grow at 3 times that of the rural populations. So if rural people's incomes improve they continue to grow at lesser rate than urban residents thus creating a widening gap in Chinese society. Oh this is not about hating China (such an easy excuse), it's about making China accountable.

    November 18, 2011 at 4:50 am |
  4. David Oswald

    Professional anti-China commentators are on the way. They are looking for their materials to be pasted this time. Remember to have your secretaries prepare them, Agents.

    November 18, 2011 at 4:58 am |
  5. David Oswald

    "Dr" Weber said: don't believe China! Because the income of middle class is growing faster, the condition of rural people are not becoming better and the poverty rate is not reducing! What a "Dr"!

    November 18, 2011 at 5:04 am |
  6. matt

    I guess the Chinese authorities use the same statistical model to report a drop in rural poor as they do to report air pollution in Beijing.

    November 18, 2011 at 5:15 am |
  7. Bosco Perry

    Excellent news, Well done China! Here's hoping my country India does the same soon.....

    November 18, 2011 at 5:31 am |
  8. anthony quatro

    This report is a lie. Povery index in China is very high, considering those people who work in the construction sector earn a below poverty line salary of 200 US dollar or low, and most of those peasant are working in this industry. This report is all about manipulation so that people around the world believe that Chinese Gov't and private agency cared so much about the people.

    November 18, 2011 at 5:54 am |
  9. Troll_buster

    Of course everything about China is false, including it is the largest sovereign lender to US, the space station news is false, the thousands of Chinese students studying for PhD in Harvard, Berkeley, Yale are all false. The Chinese super computer news is false. The Olympic game at Beijing was false. The gold medals are false. Any Chinese says is false. Some of the losers just cannot accept their failure.

    November 18, 2011 at 6:02 am |
  10. Dantx10

    They probably killed them.

    November 18, 2011 at 6:09 am |
  11. Zoosphere

    This seems a task China facing. For a caution, all countries might not have a same solution.

    November 18, 2011 at 6:12 am |
  12. foo hung

    yes, i visited our ancestor home in hainan island china 2 weeks ago with our 5 brothers and sisters backed to my father's village surely has improved , my father before he passed away used to sent bicycles,sewing machines, TV and radio back to his village in the 60s and 70s near Qiong Hoi where BOAO SUMMIT held there.
    Now its all history , they enjoyed TV, Cell phones and INTERNET ..and they all have healthy organic food. and nice clean water and clothes to wear. LIFE SURE IMPROVED.

    November 18, 2011 at 6:16 am |
  13. mark longhurst

    while the poor in china are getting richer , they are abusing the poor in africa who have not seen an increase in wealth since the chinese money men, miners and retailers have filled africa with worthless zhing zhong plastic crap and supporting the elitest and corrupt governments to ensure they can steal their minerals and keep labour costs below their own

    November 18, 2011 at 6:21 am |
  14. jay cee

    My disbelief became evident at reading the preliminary words: "China Reports".

    November 18, 2011 at 6:23 am |
  15. Veda

    I do wish people who comment would actually go to China and see the conditions there themselves. Things are dirt cheap in China so it doesn't matter if their improved income is still deemed as too little in the western world. People should also stop complaining about China abusing Africa etc... they're way better than actually colonizing those countries like what the western did in the past. Not defending China, I would never want to live there, but setting the facts straight...

    November 18, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  16. Abhishek Nayak

    201 $ A YEAR?????? is this a joke???? can anyone survive in 16.75 $ a month??? thats even lower than india's poverty line..

    November 18, 2011 at 8:10 am |
  17. Kyne

    "The most efficient way [for China] to eradicate poverty is to increase its social welfare policies and investment in human capital, for example, through education and medical care.

    And Americans keep dreaming.

    November 18, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  18. Yes to Pragmatism!

    Kudos to China!

    Speed in taking people out of poverty is where most western style democracy failed and well China has succeeded.
    To anyone who criticize their model (authoritarian state capitalism), please help fix India first. And oh, please start with Mumbai.

    November 18, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  19. Alberto

    The great solution for China pulling millions out of poverty was capitalism even inside the comunist goverment. Labor legislation was less strict than anyother country. What I see as China's biggest threat to development is to import from the west the famous "welfare state".

    November 18, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  20. rory wong

    All the China affair experts ,please tell the world don't trust what the Chinese government told you. Go and ask Aj Weiwei. He lives under poverty line. He even can't afford to pay tax.

    November 18, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  21. Fawad

    China = 1
    USA = 0

    November 18, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  22. y22nxdf2

    The Chinese are coming!! I hope they love their children too.

    November 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  23. Lary Rollin

    Since when has the govenment of China ever told the truth?

    Remember all of the lie surrounding the 3 gorges dam?

    November 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  24. Lary Rollin

    The Chinese government also reports that there are outrageously small amounts of religously active people in China...

    ...have you ever been to a temple, church or mosque there?

    November 18, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  25. hkm

    "...Over the long-term, the most efficient way for China to eradicate poverty is to increase its social welfare policies..."
    and end up like US and Europe going bankrupt?

    November 18, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  26. davidmd

    well, by contrast, U.S 's poverty hit record high , and will continues to hit higher and higher before collapse totally,
    more than 15% of U.S. ppl are purely poor people now , well, in comparsion, the poorest people 20 millions chinese farmers only acounnts for only 1.4% of total chinese ppl

    remember, chinese living costs is 50 times lower than that in U.S., in that sense, china has much less povety

    November 18, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  27. davidmd

    Lary Rollin

    Since when has the govenment of China ever told the truth?

    Remember all of the lie surrounding the 3 gorges da

    ========================== funny , since when the U.S. govertment ever told the truth? if it had , U.S. would not have trapped itself in debts, dont forget wilki leak,

    November 18, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  28. jesus

    We should all be supporting the improvement in China.Its for a better more balanced world.
    Its extemely sad to read demonising,stereotypical and hateful comments been directed towards China and chinese people.If it were the other way round (or any other country/nation) you would expect support which is a fact.
    Its hypocrisy and completely unchristian.

    November 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  29. expat

    Occupy wall street and the banking crises is proof that the US government is extremely disingenuious with the truth.
    The Western powers are fully capable of sharing its wealth but it has chosen to be greedy.
    They loose my vote.

    November 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  30. frankwu

    You will never know the truth by the state-owned media in this great country.

    November 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  31. Joe

    Congratulations to China for a job well done. This is what happens when money is spent in development instead of endless wars.

    November 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  32. Derrick

    If China was lying, the government would have been overthrown ages ago. I have to give the Chinese government credit for slowly getting the population out of poverty. But they still have a long long way to go.

    November 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  33. Midwestmatt

    Dec. 7, 2010 – "One of China’s most senior officials, Vice Premier Li Keqiang, said in 2007 that China’s GDP figures are “man-made” and “therefore unreliable,” according to recently leaked U.S. diplomatic cables."

    There is absolutely no reason to believe anything China says. I have done basic research on Chinese household incomes, with critical data coming from the CASS, which makes it clear that China is distorting, yet again, their numbers in such away that their policies would appear successful. The number of staggeringly poor people in China is astronomical and this report is laughable.

    November 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  34. solomon

    Well if reducing the "rural poor" numbers by a good thing, they yeah, sure..,

    November 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  35. US_Losers

    US losers simply would not accept their declining position in every aspects: financially, education, household income, worldwide reputation, value and education of average US citizen.

    The world is catching up year by year. US is declining year by year. Look at Capitol Hill, can a country prospers with all those corrupt partisan politicians running around like Washington.

    November 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  36. Andy

    How ironic that the US is experiencing a dramatic INCREASE in the number of poor.

    November 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  37. Andy

    How ironic that the US is experiencing a dramatic INCREASE in the number of poor!

    November 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  38. Well done USA

    Your factories have lifted 100s of millions out of poverty in China. However, their government is big on saving "face", and they will never admit that in a million years. Sad, the rest of the world will just have to acknowledge it for them.

    November 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  39. Well done USA

    China is trying to sabotage the West with cheap labor because they can't compete any other way. Who's the loser?

    November 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  40. Well done USA

    Hi Andy, it's not ironic. China is not creating wealth, they are draining it. They are useless to the world.

    November 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  41. North Korean

    I'm North Korean and I hate China. They have ruined our land. We could be like South Korea, but no they had to do the commie shuffle over here. I hate my life and its all because of China.

    November 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  42. Aaron Smith

    Good for Chinese rural poor. It's hard work to move from poor to middle class and their efforts should not be shamed or made fun of. Our government has put more people into poverty in the last 10 years. AT least China gives a rip about their people and for that I give them kudos.

    This is not an article on how great China is – it's basically saying that there are less poor people in China because they are moving into a more modern society – what is WRONG WITH THAT.

    As far as North Korea goes, your leadership screwed you long ago.

    Long live the Chinese people and their government of caring – may we be blessed to have the same rule over our lands.

    November 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  43. Well done USA

    I don't get it. Some Chinese on here are acting like this is a scoreboard. Saying China 1 USA 0. Wait a sec, didn't we come out of our rural stage 100 years ago? Why is China so proud of this "accomplishment." I think it's more like China 1 USA 23423892234234.

    November 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  44. Jacob

    To all these armchair experts who claim they have carefully studied the situation in China, I wonder how it is possible that you are still so clueless about the real situation there. Claiming that China is lying about the rapid increase in incomes just makes you look like idiots. Just visit China and talk to the people there. Incomes and standards of living are higher today than ever before. Anyone that denies this is either delusional or lying.

    Sure, rural incomes have grown more slowly, and rural poverty levels are set lower than for people in urban areas. But one of the biggest contributors to inflation in China is food prices, but that is mostly because of higher wages for people working in the distribution network and wages of city workers. Food prices in rural areas have risen much more slowly, and rural people in China very rarely go hungry...even when they are desperately poor.

    November 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  45. bernardwesly

    They're probably killed

    November 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  46. Well done CHINA!

    @ Well done USA

    You are right, you DON'T get it. China was already a world power when nobody even heard about some land now called 'usa'. The chinese are reclaiming their crown again and you usa gets a Tea party, lol.

    November 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  47. LionOfNarnia

    Whenever I think of China.. I smell farts...

    November 18, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  48. Thieves

    @ Welll done CHINA!

    You have USA to thank for your incredible growth. you sound like you are a very ungrateful ignorant person. i wish usa would send all its cheap labor to it india where the people actaully appreciate it and let china go back to rotting

    November 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  49. Well done CHINA!

    @ Thieves
    Great, another ignorant yank. I'm from Europe and I wish you and your family the same as you just wished for more than 1 billion people. You obviously didn't read the article anyway, cheap labor is dying out in China.

    November 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  50. Taki

    PRC is developping country while world ranked 2nd in GDP. It's good news PRC anyway improves basis for social stability. Let's hope this leads more democracy and better impact in the reagion.

    November 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  51. Thieves

    @ Well done CHINA!

    LOL! how dumb are you?

    November 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  52. chongqing

    i live in china and anything the government says should be taken with sharp criticism. While its obvious the rural poor numbers are decreasing, its because they are all leaving the countryside and running for the city. the rural people are still extremely poor. And its getting much much harder for the PRC to hide the homeless in the cities.

    November 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  53. Laika

    @Dr Ian Weber
    The government in China is well aware of the widening income gap and the risk it poses. I've been reading People's Daily from time to time and they are quite blunt about the problems their country face like income inequality, the age demographic problem and so on . Sure fewer people are starving in China than earlier but the widening income gap may cause unrest as many may feel left out of the Chinese boom. The Chinese have been saying all along that they're a developing country, it's us in the west that have a hard time managing our expectations.

    November 18, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  54. Bill rich

    Good. China should pay its fair share for UN now since it doesn't have poverty as excuse. Its free ride is over.

    November 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  55. wysiwyg

    Since western colonialism has been chased away from Africa....Africa and Asia has been improving.

    November 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  56. Fake Westerners

    Got to love the fake Westerners kissing up to China. China is universally reviled in the West for its backwards government,human rights issues, and poor living conditions. Yes, that means poverty. Lots of it. Despite the immitation Western cities on the seaboard. China is a big dog and pony show. But look behind the curtain and you will see what it's really like.

    As for the Jacobs, bob's, jeffs, daves, and rick's who love China. Your real name is some derivative of Mao. Evil Mao, who ran the cruelist and largest mind control experiment the world has ever known.

    I agree with Thieves, move the jobs to India. India has been a friend, and China is nothing but an enemy. Hacking our systems, stealing everything we have. Trying to tell us we are doomed in fake comments (see Fake Westerners above). Why are we trading with the enemy? We need to work together to find a common solution to this. Many developing countries are getting screwed by China's bogus currency and slave labor conditions. What about them? Why can't they have the factories?

    November 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  57. hachimada

    OK, China is not to be believed; Chinese are all in poverty; Chinese are nothing but your enemies. - So leave us alone, please. Why do you still care to comment?

    November 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  58. That'snottrue:[

    @ FakeWestern
    You sir, are the troll who needs to get out of his cave.
    Bet you've never been to China. Ben dian/Baka/Idiot!... Or outside of the US for that matter, nevermind Asia.

    November 19, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  59. valwayne

    China has turned from socialism to capitalism and is growing their economy rapidly and reducing poverty. Obama has done the exact policy inflicting the most socialist big Government policies the U.S. has seen in over a generation resulting in a record increase in the poverty rate. What does that tell you folks? It tells you Obama, for being the supposed smartest man in the room, is an economic idiot!

    November 19, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  60. Zinyad

    An expat living in china since 2001. As we see poverty all over the world, China has achieved good results of rural poverty eradication. I do not agree with the numbers here but we should not criticise china in this way. What the west provided africa along many years of colonialism! Just let education and med care rescue the us poor population! 伊*德

    November 19, 2011 at 1:41 am |
  61. Silas Mann

    Can China please explain its political system to us – is it Democracy, Communism, Washed down Socialism or just something else we do not recognise at the moment. China must also explain why they do not have elections like normal freedom loving countries do. China must also explain its policy of secrecy, media censorship and general perceived disrespect for its rural citizenry. You can't have a government that claims to embrace Marxist ideals and then have poverty at the levels that exist in China....You can't...The people MUST make themselves heard. Politics b log:

    November 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm |

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