To maintain perspective, I will start this segment about poverty in China by citing the CIA World Factbook. The CIA report says that only 2.8% of China’s population lives in “absolute poverty”, while reporting that 12% live in poverty in the US.
India’s listing says 25% live in poverty. The poverty percentage for the United Kingdom (Britain) was fourteen. Zambia, the highest poverty rate I saw was at 86%.
The CIA says, “National estimates of the percentage of the population falling below the poverty line are based on surveys of sub-groups, with the results weighted by the number of people in each group. Definitions of poverty vary considerably among nations. For example, rich nations generally employ more generous standards of poverty than poor nations.
In fact, the 2010 Global Hunger Index says there were 925 million hungry people in the world. The index ranks countries on a 100-point scale, with zero being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst.
China’s score was nine.
Al Jazeera’s Samah El-Shahat says, “The Chinese economic miracle dominates headlines around the world.… The economy there is predicted to grow at 8% up to 2010 and beyond, which is an incredible rate of development.”
To make this happen, people migrated to where the jobs are creating crowded cities and empty villages.
This segment starts out in Sichuan Province on a family farm where bringing in the crop falls to a young girl and her grandmother, Wei Shu Bin.
Wei Shu Bin says the young girl’s parents are away working in the city to earn money—”that is their way of taking care of me.”
In fact, the money sent home from the city has transformed the family’s life in the countryside. Before the parents went away, the family lived in a hut with a thatched roof reminiscent of the middle ages in Europe.
Today, they live in a larger house, but most of the village people are very old or very young because 80% have gone to work elsewhere.
Yang Xui Ying in the village market says, “We keep pigs and grow vegetables for sale in the market. We can support ourselves.”
The reason stated for so many leaving the villages to work in the cities is to provide a better future for their children so they can attend school. However, there is a downside to not having parents at home—the crime rate among rural Chinese teens has gone up.
To build a modern China with improved lifestyles requires sacrifice and hard work. It doesn’t come free.
Return to China Moving – Part 1
If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.