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'China has not eradicated poverty': Xi Jinping govt's claims challenged

A study conducted by a former UN economist, Bill Bikales, and funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation says China will not be able to do so either until it has viable systems in place to identify poor people everywhere

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | June 8, 2021 | Updated 18:10 IST
'China has not eradicated poverty': Xi Jinping govt's claims challenged
Chinese President Xi Jinping

The Xi Jinping-led Chinese Communist Party used a "limited and inflexible" method to calculate poor people, which led to its claim of eradicating poverty, a study conducted by a former UN economist shows. China in 2020 claimed that it has eradicated extreme poverty in the country, thanks to its welfare programmes for the poor in rural areas. Despite China's claims, the country was hit by a massive coronavirus wave in the first half of 2020. However, the Communist government said it has achieved the target on schedule, giving a major boost to President Xi Jinping's party ahead of its founding day in July 2021.

China also released a white paper on how it achieved the unimaginable feat considering China's vast population and said it's a model for countries wanting to achieve economic freedom. Economist Bill Bikales in his research paper 'Reflection on poverty reduction in China' said the huge achievements of the targeted program notwithstanding, "China has not eradicated poverty - even extreme poverty".

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As per Bikales' study, China will not be able to do so either until it has viable systems in place to identify poor people everywhere. "...Until poverty is seen as both a rural and an urban phenomenon, until special attention is paid to the still large number of "floating population" -- the rural-urban migrants - and until the country provides a safety net for all its people. This includes those who are hit by a death, serious illness, loss of work or other shock," the study said in the report funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

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Bikales, however, agreed that in terms of the historical context, the magnitude of China's achievement is "enormous". "Beyond question, there has been a major improvement in living conditions in poorer parts of China as a result of this campaign. The lives of many tens of millions of poor people have been greatly improved.  The multidimensional approach the government took is particularly impressive: upgrading schools, infrastructure, healthcare and the natural environment are all steps whose impact should be sustainable and broad-reaching," he said.

In April, China had released a white paper on the country achieving economic freedom, saying it is its "strongest weapon" towards "eliminating overall and extreme poverty" in China. As per the official Chinese figures, China's 89.8 million people reside in rural areas, even though the number is supposed to be quite high. China's poverty line is just above the World Bank's global extreme poverty threshold of 1.90 USD per day. The number, however, is way less than $5.50 per day in upper-middle-income nations.

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