News and insight on poverty in China.

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poverty in ChinaPoverty in China remains a pressing concern for the global community, as 252 million people—or 18% of China’s population—live on less than $2 per day. Another 22% of China’s population lives on less than $5.50 per day, especially in rural areas with struggling farming and fishing industries. Yet, many people don’t realize the extent of poverty in China.

Poverty in China

China remains as the second-largest economy in the world since the 2008 recession. There were still 5.5 million individuals living in extreme rural poverty in China by the end of 2019. This was even after an average of 13 million people were lifted out of poverty each year for the first five years of President Xi Jinping’s first term.

China’s mountainous terrain and varying natural conditions have caused issues like air pollution, water and soil problems and biodiversity loss. China’s natural landscape along with a lack of transport infrastructure makes poverty alleviation rather difficult.

However, many regions of China are trying to stimulate their economies by embracing regional cuisine. In Gansu and Qinghai Provinces, traditional noodles have stimulated the economy. In Guangdong, local chefs have run workshops to teach the poor how to cook and market their goods. Embracing traditional cuisine could help solve the poverty in China.

Noodle Initiative in Gansu Province

Gansu Province, located in North-Central China, created a noodle initiative in 2019. The aim was to alleviate poverty through the region’s specialty dish, Lanzhou noodles, prepared in a beef broth. Gansu authorities trained over 15,000 people from impoverished areas to make Lanzhou noodles from scratch, which would typically cost them $1.50. The participants then hopefully have a better chance to find employment at or open their own noodle shops. Similar initiatives in Gansu’s capital, Lanzhou and Beijing in 2018 led 90% of participants to find noodle-related jobs afterward, which helps fight poverty in China. These jobs typically earned the workers more than $590 a month.

The centuries-old noodle recipe calls for very precise noodle pulling. It can even take up to three years to fully master the skill. The Vocational and Technical College of Resources and Environment in Lanzhou helps many Lanzhou residents perfect their noodle-pulling craft. These new chefs also receive aid in fulfilling the necessary education requirements to spread their skills overseas.

The result is an estimated 4,000 Lanzhou noodle shops are currently open in Gansu province, which had the lowest GDP per capita of any Chinese province in 2017.

Hand-pulled noodles in Qinghai Province

Qinghai Province, located in China’s northwest on the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau, has seen drastic poverty reduction over the past decade. Previously plagued by poor infrastructure and lack of skilled labor, Qinghai has seen success with its “noodle” sector. The disposable income for farmers and herdsmen in the region nearly doubled from 2015 to 2018. Their poverty rates decreased from 24.6% to just 2.5% within that same time period.

Haidong, in northeast Qinghai, generated 15.4 billion yuan in business revenue. The source was from the city’s 578 noodle businesses, which employed 9,786 employees. One-third of the urban population and half of the families in rural areas are engaged in the city’s operating noodle businesses. The province has encouraged the noodle sector to continue hiring poorer residents. The city employs poverty reduction methods such as workshops, specific guidelines for growth and even a planned noodle business hub.

Benkanggou Village in Qinghai also helped eradicate poverty through the noodle industry. Over 110,000 of the villages’s 300,000 residents are engaged in the noodle industry. These numbers are thanks to the village’s 350 sessions of hand-pulled noodle training to over 13,000 families. Local authorities visited many poor households encouraging them to participate in the workshops. Thousands of more workers have been brought into the thriving industry since then.

River Snail Rice Noodles in Liuzhou

The city of Liuzhou, located in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is well known for its river snail rice noodles, or luosifen. Luosifen is a fusion of traditional ingredients from Han, Miao and Dong ethnic groups. It consists of rice noodles boiled with pickled bamboo shoots, dried turnip, fresh vegetables and peanuts in a spicy river snail soup. The dish was designated as part of Guangxi’s intangible cultural heritage in 2008. In the years since, the Liuzhou government has been boosting industries related to luosifen’s production. The region now brings in around six billion yuan annually.

Guangxi was listed as the province with the fourth lowest GDP per capita in 2018. Then in 2019, Guangxi lifted 1.25 million people out of poverty as well as de-listed 1,268 poor villages. This was a direct result of 337 workshops and 33 new poverty alleviation industrial parks. The luosifen industry played a major role in these poverty eradication efforts, as new factories have been created that specialize in instant luosifen, bamboo shoot processing, river snail collection and creative luosifen packaging.

Guangdong Cooking Initiatives

In Guangzhou in South China, an initiative called the Cantonese Cuisine Master program has tried to cultivate talent, promote cultural exchange and alleviate poverty in China through Cantonese cuisine training. The program has trained over 30,000 people so far and has mobilized over 96,000 people to secure employment and start their own businesses, lifting many out of poverty.

A Cantonese Cuisine Master Skills Competition in 2019 brought together many graduates of the program from 23 cities. Chefs prepared dishes like Chaoshan marinated goose, roasted crispy suckling pig, Portuguese-style chicken and flavored fish balls. Various Cantonese Cuisine Master programs and workshops have taken place in Hong Kong, Macao and other regions in southern China with the help of universities and enterprises. The program prepares chefs, many of whom come from rural and poverty-stricken areas, for the workforce. It also teaches the chefs about the concepts and ideas behind their cooking, which fosters cultural exchange and cooperation.

Since 2018, Guangdong has signed cooperation agreements with Tibet, Guangxi Zhuang, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions and Guizhou and Yunnan provinces to train more Cantonese chefs and help many escape poverty.

In Sichuan Province, 103 trainees from poverty-stricken counties—Meigu, Leibo and Jinyang—came to the Shunde District in Guangdong’s city of Foshan to receive free cooking lessons for two months at the Shunde Culinary Institute. They learned to cook traditional Cantonese dishes like stir-fried milk and stuffed mud carp as well as Sichuan-inspired dishes. After completing the program, trainees will have access to restaurant internships and full-time opportunities both in Shunde and in their hometowns. These sessions provided by Guangdong are said to increase monthly salaries by 1,000 to 2,000 yuan. Additionally, 56,000 students are currently enrolled in Cantonese cuisine courses at vocational schools across the province.

Noah Sheidlower
Photo: Flickr

China's Poverty Reduction and the Millennium CampaignThe fight against poverty is a massive undertaking. While China’s poverty reduction has helped the United Nations (U.N.) reach its goals, there is still a ways to go. For real and lasting progress to be made on the task of lifting millions above the poverty line, the global community has no recourse but to rely on the collective efforts and data of the global community. However, by synergizing the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector and governmental institutions, the uphill battle of poverty reduction remains fierce but not insurmountable.

The United Nations Millennium Declaration

In September 2000, following a three-day diplomatic marathon of deal-making and goal-setting, the U.N. General Assembly approved the United Nations Millennium Declaration. With this agreement, the U.N. adopted more than 60 goals. These goals included improving the environment, encouraging peace and development, promoting human rights, combating hunger and pursuing global poverty reduction. Following this daring declaration, the United Nations Millennium Campaign was put into effect. More than 180 member states agreed to the campaign as a means of achieving these goals by 2015.

Moving The Goalpost

The U.N. claims to have not merely achieved its goals but achieved them ahead of schedule. However, a closer look will reveal how this celebration may have been premature. Yale professor and development watchdog Thomas Pogge pointed out that following the signing of the original declaration, the U.N. rewrote it to reduce only the proportion of the world’s population living on less than $1 a day. Previously, the U.N. had planned to decrease the overall total number of people living in poverty.

It is estimated that this change reduced the goal by 167 million due to population growth. Also, the campaign shifted the focus of what constitutes “poverty” to be based solely on income levels. The World Bank determines extreme poverty by the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day. Changing the variables made it easier to achieve the goal. Additionally, according to the World Bank, the number of people living in extreme poverty is still more than 4 billion.

With the Millennium Campaign’s goals, moving the finish line and still declaring victory makes it more difficult to establish the current standing of global development and progress. This is especially true when it comes to China’s poverty reduction rate. It also, as an unintended consequence, has the potential to dwindle the severity of the current state of global poverty.

In an attempt to show a more impressive poverty decrease, the Millennium Campaign retroactively included data stretching back to 1990. By doing this, the impressive dip in poverty was mainly due to China’s poverty reduction progress during those 10 years.

China’s Efforts

Also, numeric data aside, one cannot underestimate the role semantics plays in perceived poverty reduction. China’s state-run media has proclaimed, “China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty through more than 30 years of reform and opening-up.” And China declares its intention to “lift” even more out of abject poverty.

Skeptics have pointed to the phrase, “lifted out of poverty,” as a purely Westernized regurgitation. China’s preferred usage of “fupin kaifa” (扶贫开发) translates as “assist the poor and develop.” So, while China’s poverty reduction accomplishments are commendable, the translation conveys a larger achievement than what it actually is. However, China does deserve credit for achieving no small feat in raising millions above the poverty line.

The global community has much to be proud of considering how far the world has come in the work of bettering lives. If the mammoth task of combating poverty and promoting development is going to be successful, the goals needs to acknowledge the truth about the current situation.

– Connor Dobson
Photo: Flickr

Coronary Heart Disease in ChinaAs China’s population growth rate continues to stabilize after a 2.7% peak in 1966, low birth and death rates indicate increased access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities. Stabilized population growth initiates a transition toward cardiovascular diseases like coronary heart disease (CHD). Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide; coronary heart disease in China remains the country’s second leading cause of cardiovascular death.

Risk Factors in China

CHD often leads to cardiac arrest and occurs as a result of cholesterol buildup in the coronary arteries. Out of the 290 million patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease in China, CHD accounted for approximately 11 million cases in 2018.

Risk reduction occurs through lifestyle modifications that promote physical activity and a healthy diet. Risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • High-sodium diet
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to air pollution
  • Smoking

China faces greater vulnerability to CHD due to common lifestyle choices, occurring as a result of the country’s economic growth and development. For instance, residents experiencing urbanization in low- and middle-income communities often utilize efficient transportation methods like trains or buses rather than physical activities such as biking, running or walking. Chinese dietary patterns also reveal the popularity of processed foods consumption. These processed foods are made with significant amounts of sodium and relatively low amounts of essential nutrients like potassium, vitamin C and calcium.

Dr. Cemal Ozemek, clinical assistant professor and cardiac rehabilitation director at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told The Borgen Project that developing countries experiencing economic growth “may have increased access to calorie- and sodium-dense foods,” as well as “decreases in daily life physical activity….and transition to sedentary jobs.”

In terms of tobacco use, China is the leading consumer and producer of tobacco products worldwide with nearly 300 million users. Since one-third of the global smoking population resides in China, smokers and non-smokers alike experience frequent exposure through direct and secondhand consumption. Tobacco alters blood chemistry and produces plaque buildup in the coronary arteries, further increasing the risk of CHD in China.

The Intersection of Poverty and Industrialization

Over 80% of global CHD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. As the average Chinese life expectancy continues to rise, rapid industrialization, population aging and dietary changes are leading to an overall increase in the prevalence of CHD. Like many other countries, however, the impoverished population of China is disproportionately affected by CHD due to the following risk factors:

  • Decreased resources allocated to cardiovascular disease prevention
  • Lack of access to healthcare
  • Increased exposure to indoor air pollution
  • Inability to afford nutritious food

Impoverished people affected by China’s rising industrialization are at greater risk for cardiovascular diseases like CHD due to inaccessible healthy lifestyle modifications. Additional deficits like lack of environment walkability, little access to health education and high prevalence of food deserts affect CHD incidence rates among impoverished Chinese communities.

Improving Access to Healthcare in China

The Basic Public Health Services (BPHS) program was implemented in 2009 to provide free primary health services to Chinese residents. BPHS includes the establishment of medical records for Chinese residents, as well as health management and education programs. Another initiative, the Medical Financial Assistance (MFA) program, ensures healthcare access by providing financial assistance to low- and middle-income households. In 2012, the MFA assisted over 58 million individuals in primary health insurance enrollment.

Improving access to healthcare reduces the risk of CHD in China by providing residents with free recommended health consultations and check-ups. As a result, CHD patients experience increased life expectancy through early diagnosis and treatment initiatives. Financial assistance is crucial in extending healthcare access to impoverished communities because it assists low-income households with treatment costs.

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases like CHD often reinforce cyclical poverty due to “catastrophic health spending” and “high out-of-pocket expenditure.” In addition to improving access to healthcare, nationwide interventions such as tobacco-free policies, taxation on high-sodium foods and health education systems help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in China.

– Madeline Zuzevich
Photo: Flickr

poverty in ChinaAs of 2018, 16.6 million people live in poverty in China. The statistic, though staggering, often gets overlooked in light of China’s recent successes. In the last few decades, the country underwent rapid industrialization and urban development, which uplifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. However, China has all but forgotten millions of rural families. As a result, the rural families must live off of meager means in the countryside or roam from place to place looking for work.

In prominent cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, glistening glass skyscrapers soar and large shopping malls appear throughout. Below, fresh paint marks the newly paved streets and public workers hustle about, cleaning street trash. China has come a long way.

However, not all of China is this way. The country is massive; in fact, the landmass nears the same size as all of Western Europe, and contains many secluded regions away from the bustling cities. It is in these provinces that the poor are sequestered. Seeking a better life, many people dealing with poverty in China leave their hometown, becoming migrant workers.

Migrant Workers

Unlike some other Western countries, China has a household registration program called The Hukou System. This system registers individuals to a specific district or area in which they are born. The local government of that district provides healthcare, education and pension payments for registered community members.

However, if one wishes to move, it is extremely unlikely that they will be granted permission to upgrade to a more prosperous community. If they do so anyway, the migrant will lose their social benefits. Yet, many individuals choose to do this because of the lackluster agrarian jobs of their hometown (or lack of any available jobs).

Currently, migrant workers number over 288 million, which is over 20% of the total population and continues to rise each day. Forgoing their government benefits, many of these families are unable to provide an education for their children. Moreover, when parents retire, they have no choice but to put the financial strain on their children to support them.

Due to being unregistered, this populace escapes census, which is why, statistically, poverty levels appear so low. In reality, many families are struggling to make ends meet. Kids are going without education, parents without jobs and grandparents without support.

Rural Poverty in China

If migrant workers are classified as rural, then more than 99% of China’s poverty belongs to rural provinces, and less than 1% reside in modern cities. This wealth inequality largely comes down to quality jobs. Among the rural poor, 93% are capable of work, yet due to inadequate education, they lack the credentials needed for the high-paying jobs.

As a result, rural people focus primarily on agriculture. However, while other economic sectors boom around the country, the agricultural sector continues to lag behind. Currently, the rural sector as a whole is in a state of regression, with rural per capita income decreasing by nearly 20% in some quarters. This is a warning bell for the government to step in and offer aid.

Response to Poverty in China

China’s poverty alleviation campaign stands to be one of the most successful in human history. It is astounding how much the country has done in a matter of decades, improving the lives of hundreds of millions. However, much more progress must occur.

The main issue lies in the fact that poverty no longer settles in one particular region but rather is equally distributed throughout the nation. This makes it extremely difficult for the government to make a focused effort on poverty reduction.

However, there are three potential solutions to help alleviate poverty in China. The first solution deals with reforming the Hukou System to support domestic migration. The second solution focuses on allowing farmers to own the land they toil and improve farm yield. Lastly, outside sources could invest in foreign aid focused on developing rural sectors and providing quality education.

– Jacob Pugmire
Photo: Flickr

China
Poverty in China today primarily refers to the rural poor, as the country’s economic growth over the past few decades has led to the majority of urban poverty being eradicated. But while local Chinese governments have implemented many programs and policies in an effort to aid China’s poorest regions, there is still one major factor that researchers say China is forgetting about: language. In a lot of ways, language and its variations affect poverty in China.

Language Statistics in China

Geography plays a huge role in analyzing the relationship between spoken Chinese languages and poverty. China’s last national census reported that the nation has more than 1.38 billion inhabitants, many of whom are located in the urban areas of Eastern China. Studies of China’s urbanization trends also reveal a migration of the nation’s various ethnic groups. The main language of the most urbanized cities is determined by the ethnic group that populates that area the most. With 91.51 percent of the Chinese population being Han Chinese, standardized Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language across the nation.

The remaining 8.41 percent of the Chinese population is made up of 55 other ethnic groups. This part of the population, though a minority in terms of the general population makeup, accounts for the majority of those who are located in rural Chinese areas. The Chinese central government has identified 14 of these rural provinces as areas of concentrated poverty. These areas have their own distinct languages and cultures, speaking one of 200 dialects from five main dialectical groups, out of which Mandarin Chinese is only one. Furthermore, around 30 percent of these ethnic minorities are illiterate and unable to speak Mandarin, the main language in the country. As such, many of these ethnic minorities remain isolated from provincial opportunities that may help them rise out of poverty.

Government’s Work

There has been an increase in attention from regional and local Chinese governments in terms of addressing the education gap between urban and rural communities. One expert, Zhu Weiqun, even states that the Chinese government needs to do more to teach these ethnic groups standardized Mandarin, as this has been a primary influencer in the development and urbanization of cities like Beijing. This type of education will provide these ethnic minorities with the lasting ability to access other jobs apart from farming, that will enable them to earn enough money to feed and clothe themselves without such a strong dependency on governmental programs.

Challenges

Understandably, there is also the problem of resistance from certain ethnic minority groups, particularly Muslims, who feel that their language is integral to their cultural identity. As such, the government is tasked with encouraging the standardization of its most commonly spoken dialect in a way that does not simultaneously alienate any one ethnic group. This cycle of promotion and rejection is integral to the way that language continues to affect poverty in China.

– Jordan Washington

Photo: Unsplash

Seven Facts About Migrant Children in China
The world’s largest migration, known as the ‘floating population,’ has not only affected China’s economic reform, but has shaped millions of children. In 2017, a
report stated that China has an “estimated 287 million rural migrant workers” to look for greater job opportunities. UNICEF has approximated that nearly 100 million children have been affected by this change, and many put in harm. Here are seven facts about migrant children in China.

7 Facts About Migrant Children in China

  1. According to the journal, “Chinese Education and Society,” 35.81 million children of those affected by the migration migrate to the city with their parents, while around 70 million were left behind in their rural hometowns.
  2. Migrant children who move to the cities often lack the same access to social services as other children such as: education, healthcare and support. This lack occurs due to the Hukou system, a system that registers one in the hometown that he or she was born, and prohibits those outside of the city to receive the same benefits as their urban-hukou-holding counterparts.
  3. Many children are left behind in the countryside and often have little to no family support; in fact, most are raised by their grandparents and have little contact with their parents. According to a 2013 survey in Shandong, “75 percent of [left-behind children’s] parents visited home just once a year during the Spring Festival.”
  4. There are around 36 million minors who will join the next generation of migrant workers. Many included in the new generation of migrant laborers — the children of current migrant workers — have a strong desire to assimilate to the city. However, many of their urban-hukou-holding counterparts do not view these populations as “one of them.”
  5. A study conducted in 2013 showed that of 300 Beijing public and migrant schools compared to that of rural schools in Shaanxi, rural schools had twice the amount of qualified teachers than migrant schools in Beijing.
  6. The Chinese government recognized that migration brought numerous negative consequences to many migrant children. Although the State Council passed the State Council’s Decision on Reforming and Developing Elementary Education, the State Council stated, “We should pay more attention to resolve the problems of migrant children to have compulsory education…We should adopt various ways to resolve the problems and protect migrant children’s right to have compulsory education in laws.”
  7. Numerous NGOs have worked with the government to improve conditions for migrant children. For example, UNICEF has began working on a pilot project targeted at improving migrant children’s access to education and healthcare in the city.

Room to Grow

These facts about migrant children in China represent migration’s profound impact on a country and its people. Although China has made leaps and strides to recognize the issue, there is still work to be done to ensure that the next generation receive the same benefits and opportunities as any other child.  

– Emma Martin
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Beijing
Where media centers around the progressive, global standpoints, over 43 million people who survive on less than 2,300 yuan ($350 a year), bustle their way through the busy streets of China. This eye-opening issue of poverty is especially troublesome (and prevalent) in the city of Beijing, and is not alone on the list of unsettling facts about poverty within the city. Unfortunately, poverty in Beijing is a fact of life for many residents.

10 Facts About Poverty in Beijing

  1. Five hundred million people — 40 percent of the population in China — get by on less than $5.50 a day. This is the cost of a single specialty coffee in many cities, including Beijing which is one of the more expensive cities in China.
  2. Premier Li Keqiang wishes to move 100 million rural residents into the cities by 2020. He claims that “urban life brings higher standards of living” and it “increases domestic consumption to rebalance China’s export-reliant economy.” Though the government did not want these residents to move into major cities such as Beijing, subsequent influx was difficult to control.
  3. The government of Beijing disliked this movement and capped its population, along with destroying entire city blocks in order to remove current migrants and other vulnerable people. Beijing is attempting to push these people to smaller cities like Liaocheng, Zhengzhou and Ankang.
  4. About 50 percent of immigrants struggle to find stable jobs in these small cities because of the unfamiliarity and absence of social networks. These people are incentivized to move based on the promises of expenses — such as housing — paid by the government.
  5. If land is seized by the government during this movement, owners will only receive a pay of about 5 to 10 percent of the land’s actual value, if any money at all. This tends to happen often, due to the limited property rights of the villagers.
  6. China’s government has spent the majority of its money on infrastructure, in order to incentivize voluntary moves of residents to Beijing rather than forcing constituents from their homes. However, this plan may drive China further into debt, rather than helping its economy in the country as a whole.
  7. Beijing’s government has a more committed approach to fighting poverty than Hong Kong. The leadership wishes to put an end to the extreme hardship by 2020 — a key fact about poverty in Beijing.
  8. Beijing adjusts its poverty line for inflation each year. As of 2017, 43 million of the 1.3 billion fell below the line. Beijing’s poverty line rests at 2,300 yuan ($350 a year), but the World Bank’s global standards for extreme poverty is set at $700 a year.
  9. China has been in the lead for the world’s poverty-reduction efforts for four decades. The population pulled over 700 million people out of poverty so far. This is great news, but the world should continue its optimism with caution — China is at risk of its efforts becoming lost due to corruption of poverty alleviation funds.
  10. China allocated over 140 billion yuan ($20.5 billion) toward poverty alleviation in 2017 alone. Beijing uses this money to develop industries (such as tourism and e-commerce), bring more education and occupational training to children and develop public health services in poor areas.

Strong Momentum

Though the city clearly has a few more hurdles to jump in the race to alleviate poverty by 2020, the key facts about poverty in Beijing prove that the city is well on its way to reaching its goals.

Through migration, dedication and funding, the government of Beijing has proved its commitment to helping those struggling to get back on their feet and find stable jobs in the ever-growing economy.

– Raven Patzke 

Photo: Flickr

facts about poverty in tianjinTianjin is a metropolis in China near Beijing, located in the North China Plain region. It is one of four cities that are directly controlled by the Chinese central government. Tianjin is one of the most populous cities in China, and its economy has been growing at an astonishing speed. In 2016, it achieved the goals of its twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-15). Its overall GDP reached ¥1.65 trillion, or $252 billion. Its average annual GDP growth during these five years was 12.4 percent.

However, poverty still exists. Despite Tianjin’s overall economic growth, some serious problems hide below the surface and cannot be ignored. These facts about poverty in Tianjin help shed light on these hidden issues.

10 Facts About Poverty in Tianjin

  1. There are 16 city-governed districts in Tianjin. Each district has a specific economic strength. However, the economic development of Hongqiao District is driven by wholesales and retail, which is not enough to improve the district’s standard of living as the population increases.
  2. Heping District, Hexi District, Nankai District, Hedong District, Hebei District and Hongqiao District are the six most developed districts in Tianjin. For example, there are many financial activities in Heping District and business trades in Hexi District. Technology development is very significant in Nankai District, and in Hebei District, there are many creative and innovative ideas to facilitate better living standards. The overall quality of life is good in these districts thanks to their prosperity,
  3. According to research on urban poverty in China, if the income of a household is lower than ¥210 ($33) per capita per month, that household is considered to be living in poverty.
  4. There are many internal Chinese migrants in Tianjin, and the rate keeps rising. The majority of migrants are around 15 to 59 years old, totaling 77 percent of all migrants. Many of them come to Tianjin to seek job opportunities. However, a large number of them begin with low-income jobs, such as construction workers and bricklayers.
  5. There is very limited usable water for Tianjin citizens. There are a total 15 million people in the city, but only 4.9 percent of the water is drinkable.
  6. Since Tianjin is very close to Beijing and Hebei, these three cities comprise the Beijing mega-region. Four years ago, President Xi Jinping announced a plan to integrate rural villages near the mega-region with the three cities. Many farmers in these villages do not have a heating system in the winter, and they even cannot afford firewood to warm themselves. The announced plan redistributes resources equally, so village citizens are consistently provided with basic needs.
  7. In March, Tianjin Party Chief Li Hongzhong stated that it was no longer feasible for Tianjin to rely on old industries, and that Tianjin should transition to a tech-based economy. Its aim for GDP growth in 2018 is 5 percent. To achieve this goal, there will be a “revolution” in Tianjin government management, and officials will focus more on improving living conditions of households who are below the poverty line. 
  8. There is a plan called the rural settlement which provides living spaces for people in historically impoverished areas and reconstructs the countryside. This plan has had outstanding effects so far. Rural areas are gradually urbanizing, and living conditions are getting better.
  9. The average housing price in Tianjin in 2017 was ¥26,687 per square meter (around $4,300). However, the average salary in 2017 was only ¥6,733 per month (about $1,100). The huge difference puts a lot of pressure on both urban and rural citizens to afford housing.
  10. Tianjin Binhai New Area was established in 2009. It is Tianjin’s main urban area. It has followed the economic development pattern of Beijing and Shanghai, and now it is the wealthiest district in Tianjin. Its economy is mainly dominated by business and tourism.

Overall, even though Tianjin’s economy looks good on paper, these 10 facts about poverty in Tianjin illustrate the problems that government officials need to focus on. However, as shown above, the government is taking action to solve these problems, and more policies are being enacted to facilitate this process and improve the lives of those in poverty.

– Judy Lu

Photo: Unsplash

poverty in china
By the year 2020, according to most financial and political analysts, China will surpass the U.S. as the largest economy on the planet. The World Bank even reported that China opening itself to free-market reforms in the last few decades managed to raise more than 800 million people out of poverty in China.

The Positives

In addition to this positive news, the financial institutions also added the reassuring fact that thanks to this unprecedented growth rate, the Chinese economy improved the living standards for a massive percentage of its population. A closer look at the data reveals how in 1981, 88.3 percent of China’s population lived on less than $1.90 a day (roughly 870 million people), and 99.1 percent lived on less than $3.10 a day (over 980 million people).

The last reported year for which the World Bank gathered official data is 2010, and the results are staggering — only 11.2 percent (almost 150 million people) lived in poverty in China in 2010. The overall prospect, then, seems quite promising; however, there are some further considerations of note in regard to this set of data.

The Divide

Taking into account China’s enormous social and economical strides since the Communist Party took power, one can see that there is a massive divide in income between rural and urban areas.

More specifically, in 1978 only 23 percent of the population was employed in urban areas; by 2014, over 770 million Chinese citizens were urban workers. Such figures acknowledge the significant improvement in the urbanization process, while also concealing the fact that the rest of population still lives and works in rural areas.

Those families are largely stuck in the same economic and social distress they were before the Communist revolution and unfortunately, haven’t made significant steps forward. Other statistics reveal how China’s per capita GDP, for example, is still very much below the standards of a developed country. It ranked, in fact, at $6,894.50 in 2016, which is 55 percent below the world’s average.

The Question

How can a country whose GDP grows at an annual rate of 6.9 percent still have children begging on the streets and families living on less than $2 a day? While it’s hard to provide a definite answer, a few considerations are worth bringing forth about the Chinese political system.

The country is still ruled by a one-party system which owns and controls the vast majority of enterprises and sectors of the economy. Private property is still very weakly protected and the judicial system is dominated by the Communist Party that arbitrarily appoints judges and influences court operations and verdicts.

Moreover, the regulatory framework is also arbitrary and very intricate — details that make it difficult for a private enterprise to blossom and grow. Corruption is also a massive issue which, when paired with the state-controlled financial system and state-owned enterprises, highly depresses foreign investments and contributes to enriching the economic elite and maintaining poverty in China.

China has made improvements in its poverty alleviation efforts, but there is clearly still room for improvement. Only time will tell how the nation keeps up with its progress.

– Luca Di Fabio

Photo: Flickr


As China continues its efforts to lift its citizens out of poverty, initiatives have been established to help those living in rural communities. The government has created the twelfth Five Year Plan that aims to alleviate poverty and focuses on people in rural China, who are more susceptible to poverty than those who live in metropolitan parts of the country.

The plan states that China plans to “lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020,” by mainly focusing on people living in the nation’s 128,000 poor villages and 832 counties. The plan further encourages the development of competitive industries in areas that include agriculture and tourism to help pursue the goal of alleviating poverty by 2020.

Beyond the government’s efforts to support citizens in rural communities, migrants from these communities, who previously moved to metropolitan cities for better opportunities, are moving back to their hometowns and villages to set up businesses to help progress these areas.

A cause for this shift is attributed to favorable policies implemented to help progress the lives of people in rural China. The Chinese government has created policies that focus on improving rural infrastructure, providing subsidies, streamlining registration procedures, improving financial services and setting up entrepreneurial parks.

In recent years, approximately seven million returnee migrants have established agriculture-based enterprises in their hometowns and villages. Estimates state that the number of returnee migrants is increasing by 10 percent each year. As a result, The Ministry of Agriculture states that at least eight new jobs on average have been created for people in rural China when businesses are set up by returnee migrants.

What is Agritourism?

One industry that has been proven effective in alleviating poverty in rural China is the agritourism industry, which has seen increased interest by both developing and developed countries with large agriculture industries. Agritourism can be defined as the act of tourists visiting a farm or ranch for leisure, recreation or educational purposes.

The increased interest in agritourism can be attributed to tourists’ increased understanding of environmental protection and a heightened interest in improving the quality of life for those who live in rural China. The urban economy in China has also contributed to this popularity with its growing economy and raised awareness of healthy living, which has increased the demand for organic products and rural tourism.

The Results of Agritourism

The past six years have brought success to the agritourism industry and have helped bridge the economic gap between the urban economy and rural economy in China.

In 2012, there were roughly 1.7 million leisure farming and agritourism businesses that were created and helped create employment for 6.9 percent of the total rural labor force. These enterprises brought in an annual revenue of over 240 billion yuan from the 800 million tourists who visited rural China.

In 2016, the number of tourists increased to 2.1 billion people, who brought in and estimated 570 billion yuan that helped 6.72 million households in rural China.

Needed Improvements to the Agritourism Business Model

Even though agritourism has proven successful for millions of citizens, there are still sectors in the agritourism industry that need improvement.

There have been numerous issues that have arisen concerning agritourism and how to sustain the industry, so it can become a more reliable avenue to help alleviate poverty in China. These issues include problems with sanitation practices, lack of program planning and lack of reliable research and monitoring systems.

Also, with rural residents offering tourists “rural-style themed” food and accommodations, these practices have hindered further development of the agritourism industry. Solutions proposed have been to encourage the government to “help logistically and practically by integrating education resources in vocational institutions and by providing tailored training services for the new farmers.”

With efforts underway to improve the livelihoods of China’s rural residents, and with agritourism having already been proven as a successful industry, only time will tell whether this industry can be enough to lift people in rural China out of poverty for good by 2020.

– Lois Charm

Photo: Flickr