China has 80m middle class members

Updated: 2007-06-21 14:54

The number of Chinese officially described as "middle class" has risen by almost 15 million people in the last two years to 80 million in total, according to official sources.

About 6.15 percent of the population were middle class, and the number was still rising, Hou Yunchun, director of the Research Office of the State Council, told a conference on wealth management, the Shanghai Securities News reported recently.

Hou's estimate was based on the criterion of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which defined middle-income households as having an annual income between 60,000 and 500,000 yuan (7,792 and 65,790 U.S. dollars).

A study by the NBS in January 2005 showed about 5.04 percent of Chinese, or 65.5 million people, fell into this category.

By January 2007, China still had 23.65 million people below the government poverty line, earning less than 85 U.S. dollars a year.

The figure had fallen by more than 100 million since the government launched its campaign against rural poverty in 1986.

The expanding middle class indicated China was entering "a sound cycle of development", said Shi Jianping, president of Beijing-based Central University of Finance and Economics .

As personal wealth increases, Chinese commercial institutions are improving their wealth management services to customers with different needs, said Shi.

A market survey from the Bank of China shows the Chinese private banking market is growing at an annual rate of 12 percent.

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