Poverty

A road along Qidaoliang village located in a deep valley in Hebei province, China, 2014. (SPH)

Chinese villages' failed toilet revolution, clogged ponds and dangerous roads

Professor Zhang Rui takes stock of the government’s high-priority rural revitalisation project in villages, warning of cases of resource misallocation and misplaced priorities. He says while much manpower and resources have been mobilised to build new infrastructure, Chinese villages continue to be afflicted by poor sanitary facilities, lousy roads and a lack of clean water. The problem cannot be solved by simply building more of the same. 
A worker plants an American flag along the National Mall in Washington, DC, US, on 18 January 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

The poor in the US and China live different lives

With the Biden administration in place, some fear that the generous social welfare policies Democrat governments tend to implement will further deplete the US’s dwindling coffers. Even as some Americans have a knee-jerk reaction to what they perceive to be socialism, can the Chinese example offer any learning points for the Americans? How were they able to industrialise so quickly and move towards poverty alleviation?
Young Tibetan Danzeng Duoji (right) has no plans to go back to the farm.

Poverty alleviation in Tibet: For young Tibetans, material wealth and city life beckon

Following the Chinese government’s poverty alleviation policies, Tibetans seem to be leaving their traditional livelihoods behind and carving out new lives. How is rapid modernisation affecting Tibetan traditions and culture? Are the two mutually exclusive and a choice that the Tibetans can make for themselves? How do Beijing’s Tibet policies fare, and what criticisms do they face? Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu joins a government-organised press tour of Tibet to find out.
People walk along a pedestrian street in Shanghai on 28 October 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China is now 'a moderately affluent society'?

The recent adjustment of China’s “Four Comprehensives” at the recent fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the CCP signals that China has gauged itself to have “achieved a moderately affluent society” and will be reaching for greater goals. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan reads the signs.
Yi women dressed in their traditional costumes are seen busying their hands with embroidery at the communal square of the Chengbei Thanksgiving Community. The government-built flats they have relocated to are seen in the background.

Lifting 'the poorest of the poor' out of poverty in Sichuan: Does poverty alleviation mean uprooting people from their homes?

As China’s poverty alleviation efforts continue apace, Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong visits a community deep in Sichuan’s Daliang mountains. He finds out more about how the Yi people, once mountain dwellers, are taking to their new lives after relocating to government-built flats. Here, residents need only pay a one-time security deposit of 10,000 RMB to stay in their apartments for a lifetime. They have access to modern facilities, jobs and even dividends from shares. Is this truly utopia on earth?
Delivery workers wearing face masks ride scooters in front of Lujiazui financial district, in Shanghai, China, 10 July 2020. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Socialism and universal basic income: Creating happy societies in the age of the knowledge economy

Lance Gore analyses that the knowledge economy offers great potential for bettering the lives of people. But capitalism may not be the best route to take. Power in the hands of a few, income gaps, job losses and wage cuts in the digital age bear this out. Can China offer a third way as it seeks to marry socialism with a market economy? The West is already considering some proposals with a socialist bent such as the Universal Basic Income (UBI). Surely, proponents of socialism can think of even more revolutionary ideas?
A boy plays on a pile of garbage covering a drain at a slum area on World Environment Day in New Delhi, India, 5 June 2020. (Adnan Abidi/REUTERS)

China and India: When Western democracy fails and only utopia remains

Following the recent China-India border clash, Hong Kong columnist Chip Tsao takes a look at both countries and muses that even as some viewpoints converge, different systems and different national characteristics produce very different fates.
A man smokes at a stall selling frozen wonton near a hutong neighborhood in Beijing, 5 June 2020. (Tingshu Wang/REUTERS)

Persistent poverty and a weak middle class: China's fundamental challenge

Zheng Yongnian says China must not get ahead of itself. Recent statistics prove that 600 million people indeed earn a monthly income of just 1,000 RMB. China’s earlier reforms had led to equitable growth, but income disparity has increased with rapid economic development since it joined the WTO. As it stands, the bottom strata of Chinese society remain huge while China’s relatively small middle class continues to suffer in an inadequate social system. Rather than sweep these issues aside in a bid to glorify the country’s achievements but downplay its shortcomings, China must take a hard look at itself and focus on pursuing equitable growth.
A woman cycles past a screen showing a news conference by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after the closing session of the National People's Congress, in Beijing, China, on 28 May 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

600 million Chinese earn 1,000 RMB a month — so are the Chinese rich or poor?

Zaobao's Beijing correspondent Yang Danxu often marvels at the spending power of Chinese white-collar workers around her, and she too was surprised when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang remarked that China has 600 million people with a monthly income of 1,000 RMB. That is more than 40% of the Chinese population, and the figures portray a reality that is starkly different from common perception. Are Chinese people moving up the income ladder and are their lives becoming better as is the common refrain? Yang examines the facts.