Nearly 100 million more people in China were deemed poor as the country announced a new standard for defining poverty on Tuesday.
Ten-year-old Jiao Qiang scavenges for a living at a landfill in Guiyang, Guizhou province. The country raised its poverty threshold to 2,300 yuan a year amid rising inflation and living costs. [Photo/China Daily]
The central government have decided to raise the poverty threshold to 2,300 yuan (US$362), which brings China's poverty line more in line with international standards of 1.25 dollars a day.
The move will also make 128 million people eligible for government anti-poverty subsidies.
The poverty line applies only to rural areas.
Senior Chinese leaders convened on Tuesday for a national poverty alleviation meeting at the Great Hall of the People. The two-day meeting will map out efforts to alleviate poverty in the country's rural areas over the next decade as the government tries to narrow a widening wealth gap.
President Hu Jintao called on all members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and society to concretely carry out poverty alleviation work with "greater resolve, intensified efforts, and more effective actions and measures" in order to achieve the country's target of building a comprehensively well-off society by 2020 at the working conference.
"By 2020, our general target is to ensure that the nation's impoverished will no longer need to worry about food and clothing. Their access to compulsory education, basic medical care and housing will also be ensured," Hu said.
"The annual net income growth of farmers in poverty-stricken regions will be higher than the national average by 2020. Public services for them will also be near the national level. The current trend of a widening rich-poor gap will be reversed," he said.
China's spending on poverty reduction increased from 12.75 billion yuan in 2001 to 34.93 billion yuan in 2010, representing an average annual growth rate of 11.9 percent. Total spending during the period hit 204.38 billion yuan, Premier Wen Jiabao said at Tuesday's meeting.
Thanks to these efforts, the nation's poverty-stricken population has been reduced by 250 million. China also met the United Nations' millennium goal of halving its population living in poverty five years ahead of time.
Premier Wen also said local governments in more economically developed regions can set even higher poverty lines.
Wen said that the nation's social security funding will prioritize rural regions, especially poverty-stricken areas. A new type of social endowment insurance for rural residents will be introduced next year, he said.
China has released its outline for poverty reduction and development for the next ten years, which will focus on enhancing a trans-provincial pilot plan for poverty relief that had been launched in central and western China.
A government white paper on poverty reduction released earlier this month showed that the country reduced its poverty-stricken population in rural regions to 26.88 million by the end of 2010 from 94.22 million a decade ago.