China’s Battle with Poverty

10 Mar

China has undergone rapid physical and economic growth since the 1970s and this has had huge impacts, not only on the Chinese economy but also the people. China has the largest population in the world, 1.35 billion people inhabit the 9,596,960 square kilometres (World Bank, 2014). However, it is notable that a large proportion of the population are concentrated in the urban east and southern cities. Rural China is considered to be central and western areas. Although there has been extensive economic growth and an increase in levels of wealth, there is still high levels of poverty mostly found in rural areas. Chinese officials would argue that they have been successful in achieving one of the UN Millennium Development goals; to reduce the number of the population considered to be in poverty. This has been possible due to the country’s economic stability and changes to national policies (IFAD, 2014).

However, this action is not enough to really challenge the overwhelming issue of poverty and inequality in China. Income and wealth is a factor in determining poverty. Income is much higher in urban areas due to the presence of the manufacturing industries, employment and opportunities. Rural China is still largely focused on the agricultural industry which has less financial reward. Rural to urban migration is increasing levels of poverty in China, as the economically active move to cities and leave the dependents behind. Poverty can also be the result of natural disasters such as flooding and drought. Lack of arable land for subsistence farming or the removal of natural resources can impact the generation of an income leading to poverty. Additionally the modernisation of industries or technology can result in an unskilled workforce, who are unable to adapt and therefore face potential unemployment and poverty (IFAD, 2014).   

In order to combat rural poverty, the Chinese national government have developed new approaches and policies aimed to support rural locations and in turn, decrease poverty. These include; investment into infrastructure, education and health care. Furthermore, it is important to train locals to use new agricultural technology and to offer support to agricultural workers in times of low productivity. The overall aim is to reduce inequality of wealth between rural and urban communities, this should lower poverty levels further. Poverty reduction will not be easy for the government to achieve as the country is vast and the rural population is spread over a large land mass (Xinhua, 2014) (IFAD, 2014).


IFAD (2014) Rural Poverty in China. Available [Online] at: [Accessed on 10/03/14]

World Bank (2014) Land area ( Available [Online] at: [Accessed on 10/03/14]

Xinhua. (2014) China’s eradication of poverty needs a target. Available [Online] at: [Accessed on 10/03/14]


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