China's pledge to reduce poverty

By Ding Qingfen (
Updated: 2011-03-08 15:00
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BEIJING – China is considering "raising" the poverty line this year due to the large numbers of Chinese still living in inadequate conditions, a top level official from China's poverty alleviation office told China Daily.

Despite the comparatively low poverty line, the world cannot ignore the great achievements that China has made in poverty alleviation during the past years, said Fan Xiaojian, director of Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development with the State Council.

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Although China increased the poverty line to 1,196 yuan per capita net income a year in 2009 from 785 yuan in 2007, many believe the figure is a bit of low given the international standard. Some national committee members of the ongoing Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference proposed the line should be at least doubled.

"China's poverty line is a problem that concerns all. The existing poverty line in China is comparatively low, and we are committed to raising the line as soon as possible, yet on a gradual basis," said Fan, also a national committee member of the CPPCC.

"This year, the line will be adjusted higher than the 2009 standard," he said, but he refused to elaborate on when and by what degree the Chinese government will make it happen this time.

Late last year, a Chinese report said the nation's poverty line will rise to 1,500 yuan in 2011. Fan declined to comment on "hearsay".

In 1985, China set the poverty line at 200 yuan per capita net income a year, and the standard has grown by 500 percent during the past 24 years to 1,196 yuan in 2009.

But comparatively, the international standard is $1.25 per capita net income a day.

"China pledged to raise the line gradually some years ago because the government has realized the line is low that. Now, we still believe raising the poverty line should be a long-term strategy," said Fan.

And China is drafting the China Poverty Alleviation Development Guidelines for 2011-2020, and increasing the poverty line will be an important part of the guideline, said Fan.

The new guidelines aim to help China remarkably reduce the number of the poor by 2015, and fundamentally eliminate the poverty problem by 2020.

"It is a heavy task," said Fan.

In the past five years, the number of the poor reduced to 26.88 million in 2010 from 64.31 million from 2006.