This is a discussion on Chinese government sounds alarm on widening rich-poor divide within the Product And Services forums, part of the Miscellaneous category; A warning by the ministry of labor and social security that China's wealth gap has touched dangerous levels has fuelled ...
A warning by the ministry of labor and social security that China's wealth gap has touched dangerous levels has fuelled a slew of remedial measures by the government.
Sample the contrasts - while a million dollar wedding isn't a novelty in the eastern metropolis of Shanghai now, a five-member rural family in Anhui province some 400 km away still survives on a frugal repast of turnip tassel.
On the 88-storey Jinmao Tower in the ultra-modern city of Shanghai, the crystal wall reflects the radiance of computer-controlled neon lights in a flower-decorated wedding hall.
Cut to the Shouxian county of Anhui Province 500 km west of the city. There families scarcely have enough to eat.
Emaciated farmhand Li Duoyou, a resident of the county's Qiuji village, barely manages to give his five-member family enough food to eat, after labouring in the fields for 30 years. His encephalitis-afflicted son is confined to bed, and the family is condemned to darkness at night, unable to afford to buy a candle.
Medical treatment for their son is unthinkable, given its high cost.
In ironic contrast, global accounting firm Ernst & Young has predicted that over the next 10 years, China might become the world's second largest luxury commodities consumer next only to the US.
"A healthy economy can't be fuelled only by the rich, who own yachts and fancy cars," remarks Li Jian, an academician with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
He stresses that the widening wealth gap is threatening the country's stability and undermining its efforts for sustainable development.
The scholar points out that of the country's three economic pillars - investment, export and consumption - the last is the weakest, as the disposable income of most of China's 1.3 billion people have not risen in pace with its meteoric rise in GDP.
Doubtless China has made great progress in reducing poverty, but the number of the country's poor remains alarmingly high.
Figures till the end of July this year, report that 26.1 million of China's rural population are living in abject poverty, 49.77 million have a low income, while 22 million urban poor are supported by the minimum living allowance.
Some 20 percent of China's poor accounts for only 4.7 percent of the total income or consumption, while 20 percent of its rich accounts for 50 percent of the total income or consumption.
"The imbalanced development between cities and the countryside is the biggest obstacle on China's road to a harmonious society," says Liu Qi, a research fellow with the Anhui Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China.
The wealth gap is widening despite China's market-oriented reform, which experts say could ensure more and more people will benefit from the country's economic and social progress.
China's top legislature held its first-ever hearing last week to discuss a proposal to lift the cut-off point of personal income tax from 800 yuan ($98) to 1,500 yuan ($185) - a major amendment to the existing law on personal income tax.
This forms part of China's new drive to help low income earners against the backdrop of frenetic economic growth.
Civil affairs officials say the government has set an ambitious target to establish a welfare network covering the poor in 90 percent of provinces and 70 percent of counties before the end of 2005.
Accordingly, the central government is increasing its budget to 7.46 billion yuan ($920 million) this year - an increase of $436 million from last year.
Doubtless Li Duoyou and his family will be among the beneficiaries.