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Wealth gap widening in China, warn surveys

Last Updated: Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 19:00

Beijing: The yawning wealth gap in China continues to widen much to the disquiet of the ruling Communist Party, as new surveys revealed that the rural-urban wealth gap has increased by 50 percent, besides the spike in rich-poor divide.

A survey conducted by the Income Distribution Research Centre, affiliated with the Zhongnan University of Economic and Law, showed that the wealth gap among rural residents is expanding.

Separately, a green book published by Social Sciences Academic Press said that while incomes for the rural Chinese grew faster than those of their urban counterparts for the last three years, the gap among rural residents is larger than that of the urbanites.

Chinese urban residents earned 24,565 yuan (about USD 3,967.25) in annual per capita income in 2012, while their rural counterparts earned 7,917 yuan (USD 1,275) per capita net income, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The survey said authorities should make more efforts to adjust the income redistribution system.

The widening wealth gap between rich and poor, according to the Gini coefficient index, has already shown higher than warning levels.

An index reflecting the gap between the rich and the poor reached 0.474 in China in 2012, higher than the warning level of 0.4 set by the United Nations, Ma Jiantang, Director of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said early this year.

Known as the Gini coefficient, the index has been retreating gradually since hitting a peak of 0.491 in 2008, dropping to 0.49 in 2009, 0.481 in 2010 and 0.477 in 2011.

The index stood at 0.479 in 2003, when the previous administration led by Hu Jintao took power the same year and gradually climbed up as Chinese economy opened up to private investment and reforms.

The new leadership headed by Xi Jinping acknowledged the wealth gap and has promised to improve people's incomes with batter salary structures and tax laws.

The Gini coefficient has stayed at a relatively high level of between 0.47 and 0.49 during the past decade, indicating that China must accelerate its income distribution reform to narrow the rich-poor gap, Ma said.

"After the financial crisis in 2008, China's Gini coefficient gradually dropped from the peak of 0.491 that year as the government took effective measures to bring benefits for its people," Ma had said.


First Published: Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 19:00
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