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China's Poverty-stricken Population Down

The year 2004 saw the highest decrease rate of China's poverty-stricken population in the past five years: people with a per capita income less than 668 yuan (US$80.71) decreased 2.9 million or 10 percent; those with a per capita income of no more than 924 yuan (US$111.64) decreased by 6.4 million or 11.4 percent, according to latest statistics from the Poverty Reduction Office of the State Council.

Since the reform and opening-up to the outside world, China implemented large-scale, sustained and fruitful poverty alleviation through development, which received wide and high praise in the international community. However, China still has a long way to go, as there remain 36.1 million living under poverty line now.

Those people who have just been lifted out of poverty will probably fall back upon changes due to their weak disaster-resistant ability. For example, in 2003, 14.6 million people were alleviated out of poverty, while 15.4 million plunged into poverty again, which has never happened in nearly 20 years' poverty alleviation.

Expert analyzes that there are three reasons for the slower decrease of Chinese poor population in the 21st century. First, it has become more difficult to provide adequate food and clothing for those remaining poor as they are mostly living in the areas with worse living and production conditions; second, there are some poor people, who have initially had adequate food and clothing, pushed back to poverty by disasters; third, the work in some areas is incompatible with the new changes in poverty alleviation through development.

At the Conference on Scaling-Up Poverty Reduction held in 2004, China made a solemn pledge that it will basically meet the food and clothing needs of the poor population in 2010. The central government will input an extra 800 million yuan (US$96.96 million) of poverty-relieving fund, adding it up to 13 billion yuan (US$1.57 billion).

(People's Daily April 4, 2005)

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