Business / Economy

How China can help its rural poor

By Faisal Kidwai ( Updated: 2014-06-04 10:33

Since launching reforms in 1978, China has grown faster - and over a longer period - than any other country, ever. This achievement means that China is now the world's biggest market for industries ranging from telecom to automobiles to energy.

But how much has this development filtered down to ordinary people, especially those living in rural areas?

How China can help its rural poor
How China can help its rural poor
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If China wants to further cement economic and social benefits in every part of the country, then it has to take some tough measures, said Zhang Xiaobo, distinguished professor of economics and associate dean, National School of Development, Peking University, in an interview with China Daily.

Zhang said that China should invest more in rural education, particularly in interior regions, by extending the nine-year compulsory education to 12 years.

The country should also recognize farmers' ownership of their residential land – as farmers cannot use their houses for mortgage, and it is extremely difficult to transact their residential houses because of ambiguous property rights.

Finally, the authorities should abolish the hukou (residence permit) system, giving rural residents the same opportunities as urbanites. Under the current system, rural migrants cannot access welfare benefits or subsidized housing in the cities in which they work.

Zhang urged the government to implement these steps and also stressed that China has achieved much more compared to other developing countries.

"Although the Indian economy has also grown very fast in the past two decades, its trickle-down effect has not been as strong as China's. Indonesia has fallen into a middle income trap and failed to achieve much in poverty reduction in the past decade. Brazil, on the other hand, has made much progress in reducing urban poverty through social safety programs," he said.

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