China’s pride in eradicating poverty is challenged by new study

The Chinese Communist Party’s claim to have eradicated extreme poverty has been challenged by a new study arguing that Beijing used a limited and inflexible definition of what it means to be poor.

Late last year, the party announced that extreme poverty had been successfully eradicated, despite negative economic growth in the first half of the year caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hit the target on time delivery a propaganda hit For President Xi Jinping before the party’s centenary celebrations in July this year.

Beijing also presented its approach as worthy of study across the developing world and issued a white paper describing how China achieved its “ultimate victory” over poverty.

However, Research Posted on Tuesday by Bill Bekalis, the former UN chief economist for China, said China had not done enough to declare the ultimate victory over poverty.

“China has not eradicated poverty – even extreme poverty. It will only happen after it has viable systems that identify poor people everywhere…until the state provides a safety net for all its people. [including] “Those who have suffered death, serious illness, loss of employment or other trauma,” he wrote in the report, which was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Bekalis agreed that last year’s milestone was “indisputably an achievement of great historical significance” and that all available evidence indicated that China did what it decided to do.

But this success remains different from poverty eradication, because the fixed definitions that Beijing used were at odds with international realities of poverty, which are changing.

The Chinese government did not respond to a request for comment

In its April White Paper, China described the target system adopted under Xi as the “most powerful weapon” toward achieving “complete victory” and “eradicating general and extreme poverty for the first time in the world.” [China’s] A history of thousands of years.”

China regards poverty as a purely rural phenomenon, although more than 60 percent of its population live in urban areas.

It was launched in 2013, Shea campaign It identified all the rural poor – 89.98 million in 2015 – and recorded them in a national database. It then mobilized the vast resources of the state to ensure that they were no longer below the poverty line by the end of 2020.

The strict approach meant it even as the coronavirus pandemic raged Economic growth is declining, China’s anti-poverty work focused on helping the 5.51 million rural poor registered in the original list. Few resources have been directed toward mitigating the shock to vulnerable families who were not originally among the registered poor.

“In order to accurately capture the impact of Covid-19 on poverty anywhere other than already identified counties and villages, systems that did not exist,” Bekalis wrote.

The debate over how to interpret China’s poverty alleviation achievements also has implications for the future of the country’s welfare programs.

Some economists have argued that the country would benefit from placing a much higher limit on absolute poverty or using a relative or multidimensional measure of poverty, all of which require first recognizing that poverty still exists in China.

China’s poverty line is just above the World Bank’s global extreme poverty threshold of $1.90 per day, but below the recommended level of $5.50 per day for upper-middle-income countries.

“China is now an above-average income country,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank country director for China. “It will be important . . . that poverty alleviation efforts are increasingly turning to addressing the vulnerabilities faced by a large number of people who are still considered poor by the standards of middle-income countries, including those who live in urban areas.”

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