82 Million Chinese Survive on Less Than $1 a Day, Says an Official

Sifting through trash near Hefei, China Photograph by AFP via Getty Images

By one measure, China is set to surpass the U.S. this year in gross domestic product as the world’s largest economy—in terms of purchasing power parity (rather than nominal GDP), says the International Monetary Fund. China also has the world’s second-largest population of ultra-wealthy, with some 7,600 people possessing at least $50 million, according to a report released on Tuesday by Credit Suisse. (The U.S. remains No. 1 in its number of super-rich).

Still, that wealth contrasts with impoverishment. About 82 million Chinese still live in poverty, an official announced at a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday, reported the China Daily.

That figure is according to the Chinese poverty standard of about 2,300 yuan a year, or about $1 a day. Using the international standard of $1.25 a day, set by the World Bank, raises the figure to 200 million, said Zheng Wenkai, vice-minister of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. This means that 15 percent of China’s population is impoverished, according to the broader measure.

All told, China has 120,000 villages plagued by poverty. Residents lack electricity, running water, schools, and proper health care, the English-language paper reported. Dire conditions are exacerbated by the fact that most are in remote, often mountainous parts of the country that have inadequate roads.

“Poor populations are concentrated in extremely poor contiguous regions with poor living conditions, inadequate infrastructure as well as being afflicted with natural disasters,” the Global Times reported. Last year, China lifted 40 million residents out of poverty, and it plans to bring an additional 10 million out in 2014. China will send resident-assistance teams to the worst hit regions, the official said.

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