Beijing: Concerned over the rising wealth gap in Chinese society, top leaders of the ruling Communist Party of China have pledged to uplift over 200 million people from poverty in the coming years.
Two top leaders of the newly-constituted CPC, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, visited the most impoverished areas while acknowledging that China still has work cut out to reduce poverty, despite successfully uplifting over 500 million in the last three decades.
59-year-old Xi, who will assume the office of President in March 2013 after being elected as the General Secretary of the CPC, visited some of the villages in Fuping county in Hebei province where annual per capita income was stated to be only USD 390 compared to the national average of USD 3,461.
On the other hand, Li (57), who was elected as number two leader in the party's seven-member Standing Committee of the Politburo would take over as Prime Minister from the incumbent Wen Jiabao.
Li visited rural areas in the Enshi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture and spent time interacting with the poor families.
He went to the mountainous villages after travelling on narrow and snowbound roads and talked to farmers about their immediate concerns.
Impoverished areas are concentrated in the central and western regions, with a total population of 200 million, he said.
"If we are to build a moderately prosperous society, getting the 200 million people out of poverty will be a major task.
But we have the resolve and tenacity to accomplish this," state run China Daily quoted him as saying to the villagers.
This is 50 million more than that was mentioned by UN in 2010.
As per the UN standards China still had 150 million people living under the UN-set poverty line by 2010, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying told media here on Dec 27.
China's anti poverty alleviation programmes were regarded as success story as the reform oriented economy lifted 500 million out of the poverty in the last three decades, according to the World Bank report on China's road map for 2030.
The task was mainly accomplished due to accelerating the urbanisation process.
As per the 2011 UN Millennium Development Goals report the poverty was expected to fall under five percent of the over 1.3 billion population by 2015.
The leaders visit to the poor areas followed criticism in China that wealth gap too is growing at a faster rate.
According to the recent survey by China Household Finance Survey Centre, the country's wealth gap has reached 0.61 in 2010, much higher than the international warning line of 0.4.
According to the Hurun Rich List, China has 251 people worth USD one or more billion more.
The number of Chinese millionaires in China continued to grow as crossed the million mark touching 1.20 million an increase of 6.3 percent compared to 9.60 lakhs last year.
Stressing that the poverty alleviation should be priority Xi who was elected as the General Secretary of the CPC last month warned officials the embezzlement of poverty-alleviation funds will be treated as an "intolerable crime".
During his talk with the poor people, Li cut short a former who praised the government’s medical insurance saying that he would like to listen to what annoyed him more.
First Published: Monday, December 31, 2012, 15:09