The growing income inequality in China will be in focus at the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. According to the government, the country's Gini coefficient - a widely used measure of income inequality - was 0.474 in 2012. This is a significant jump from about 0.3 in the early 1980s and is well above the internationally recognized warning threshold of 0.4.
Although income disparity across provinces has narrowed in recent years, the new Gini coefficient puts China among the most unequal countries in Asia and at the higher end of the global range. Economic reform has made some people very rich and created an affluent urban middle class. But many millions, particularly in the countryside, have been left behind.
China is not the only country in developing Asia to experience rising inequality. A recent study by the Asian Development Bank shows that the Gini coefficient increased in more than one-third of Asian countries with comparative data in the past two decades, including India and Indonesia. These countries account for more than 80 percent of developing Asia's population. But among these countries, China's Gini coefficient has increased the most and at the fastest rate.