» 04/01/2011, 00.00
As the poverty line is raised, the number of poor jumps threefold
As part of its plan to fight rural poverty, Beijing is forced to raise the poverty line, from 1,169 to 1,500 yuan (US$ 175 to 230) per year. Scholars and politicians oppose the decision, calling it “too soft”. They want a heftier increase.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China’s much-vaunted efforts against on poverty are grinding to a halt. The poverty line in China will be raised from 1,169 to 1,500 yuan (US$ 175 to 230) a year. For the World Bank, the minimum poverty lines should be US$ 1.25 per day, or 3,000 yuan per year.
With the new criterion, the number of poor will triple, from 26.88 million to about 100 million. The old number was changed as part of the government’s plan to reduce rural poverty over the next ten years.
Experts are not happy about the decision, viewing it as late and too rosy. "There have been calls for a higher poverty line for years," said Zheng Fengtian, a professor at the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development of the Renmin University of China. "Just think how many times our salaries have increased over the past years? And how many times property prices have risen?"
Concern over the issue is not limited to academics. "From 1985 to 2009, China's poverty line rose by about 5 times, while its GDP increased by 42 times [. . .] I suggest we should at least double the current poverty line to 2,400 yuan," said Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate Shen Wen last month.
Zheng said the slow rise in the poverty line was down to balancing the interests of three parties.
"For the central government, it will mean a loss of face if the line is raised drastically and thus lead to a big increase in the impoverished population”.
"For grassroots governments, many would rather keep the poverty hat on their head because this means greater financial support from the central government.
"As for ordinary poor people, they certainly want the standard to be raised so there can be more benefits."
"Barefoot" doctors are the only medics in rural villages
In the sixties, the basics of medical care were taught to many farmers in a bid to create medical awareness throughout the country. To date, they are the only "doctors" in rural areas, albeit unrecognized by the authorities.
Life in China's countryside worse than under Mao
Research by a Chinese historian sheds light on the situation in China's rural areas, still under heavy-handed Communist rule. The Great Leap Forward might be past history, but peasants still live with its legacy at the bottom of the social heap. Data confirm that rural populations have lower wages and lack adequate health care or education as their land is seized and given over to capitalists.
Urban development creates new sub-proletariat
New projects are often planned without criteria or controls. They have enriched local governments but impoverished farmers, who are forced to migrate to cities. Tens of millions of families have been deprived of their land as well as social and economic stability.
National People's Congress closes
Only in China is the suicide rate higher in women
Every year some 287,000 people commit suicide, 58 per cent women, especially in rural areas. Depression and isolation are main causes. Till recently government did little.
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
New Vicar of Jerusalem to focus on young people and education, future of peace and hope
Mgr Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo stressed the importance of education to ensure the future of new generations. The Church is a sign of "unity" in a context "marked by divisions" and a bridge in interfaith dialogue. The situation has gone from euphoria for peace to resignation over permanent conflict. He appeals to Western Christians to come as pilgrims to the Holy Land.
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.