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  • » 01/10/2007, 00.00


    Rural-urban gap widening

    Top 10 per cent owns almost half of all private assets. Urban incomes growing fast; rural areas get poorer as a result of land expropriation and soaring medical costs.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China's income disparity has widened dramatically in the past 20 years and is reaching Latin American proportions, this according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

    The richest 10 per cent of Chinese families now own about 45 per cent of all private assets, whilst the poorest 10 per cent share less than two percent of the total wealth. In 2005, the average annual per-capita income of urban residents in Beijing was 17,653 yuan (US$ 2,263) whilst people in China's Qinghai Province earned an average of only 8,057 yuan (US$ 1,033) a year, government figures show. But farmers in Qinghai reported an average annual per capita income of 2,165 yuan (US$ 277) in 2005, just 25 percent of what local urban residents earned.

    Increasing medical costs have become the biggest burden facing Chinese people. The report shows that 11.8 percent of the household expenditures go to health care.

    “Soaring medical costs have plunged many rural and urban Chinese back into poverty,” said Li Peilin, a sociologist at CASS and the report’s editor.

    Health care costs are not the only reason for poverty. Abusive behaviour by local leaders who favour industrial growth and urban development has been for some time another cause of rural poverty. Data reported months ago show that about 40 million farmers have lost their land as ever larger areas are appropriated for industrial and residential uses, and many are enraged over what they see as inadequate compensation. Moreover, having lost their land, older peasants cannot find employment, nor get social security.

    Based on the Gini Coefficient, an indicator of income disparity that uses zero to indicate equal income distribution and one to represent the largest income disparity, China has reached 0.496, the report said. In comparison, income inequality figures are 0.33 in India, 0.41 in the US and 0.54 in Brazil.

    The sociologists warn that a rising Gini index is a sign that such differences in wealth could lead to greater social tensions and unrest.

    A survey by the China Youth Daily shows that about 90 per cent of Chinese believe the polarisation between the rich and poor is a "serious" threat in China. (PB)

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    See also

    17/12/2008 CHINA
    Every month millions of farmers, workers and graduates join ranks of the unemployed
    Rural areas cannot re-employ the millions of migrants forced to go home after losing their factory jobs. More than a million graduates join the army of unemployed. Beijing is concerned about social unrest; urges local authorities to create jobs.

    11/07/2014 CHINA
    Chinese Academy of Social Sciences . . . and journalists to toe the Party line
    Several academics support political reform. The Party feels its monopoly of power is threatened, fears it might end up like the USSR. Journalists are forbidden to pass information to foreign media, and could be charged with leaking "state secrets."

    27/09/2010 CHINA – VATICAN
    Chinese Academy of Social Sciences calls for a rethink of religious policy towards Catholics
    The Academy’s annual report says the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association interferes too much in the life of the Bishops’ Council. Some voice concerns about possible criticism at the next meeting of the National Assembly of Catholic Representatives, the top body of China’s Catholic Church, which the Pope deems irreconcilable with Catholic doctrine.

    08/02/2007 ITALY – CHINA
    Capitalia looking at new opportunities for Italy in China
    Conference organised by Capitalia, an Italian banking group, and Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, indicates that food, agriculture and the environment are key areas for Sino-Italian cooperation. Sea transportation and services are also seen as additional areas.

    19/12/2005 CHINA
    Rural poverty threatens China's social stability, says UN report
    Rural-urban divide in China is wider than in major capitalist nations. Tax system, health care, education and migrant labour management must be reformed in earnest before a "social schism" is created.

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