'China faces instability risks as gap between rich, poor widens'

PTI Beijing | Updated on March 12, 2018

A spectre of instability awaited China as the widening gap between rich and poor reached "dangerous levels of wealth inequality", a report by a Chinese NGO has said ahead of a key meet of the ruling Communist Party to select a new leadership.

The widening gap between rich and poor continues to pose a challenge to stability in China, with the latest figures showing that the Gini coefficient reached 0.438 in 2010, which exceeds UN warning levels, the International Institute for Urban Development said in its report here.

The Gini coefficient, an index measuring the inequality of income with a scale of zero to one (zero being totally equal and one being totally unequal), suggests that a country with a figure higher than 0.4 has dangerous levels of wealth inequality, the State-run Global Times newspaper reported.

According to reports in the Beijing News, the figure went from 0.275 in the 1980s to 0.438 at the end of 2010.

The report said the new index indicated that there have been risks of instability associated with the great achievements of the reform and opening-up policy, such as the increasing gap between the rich and poor and intensifying contradictions between Government officials and the public.

The excerpts of the report, which was carried by the official media here today, came ahead of the 18th Congress of the ruling party which was expect to be held in the next few weeks here.

Besides selecting a new leadership replacing the present lot led by President Hu Jintao, it would also debate the new ideological course to be followed for the next five years in the light of the economic slowdown due to a steady fall in exports due to the economic crisis in the EU and the US.

While China has emerged as the second largest economy vigorously pursuing economic reforms in the last three decades abandoning Mao Zedong’s dogmas, concerns are mounting as despite improvements in living standards, many were caught in a low-income trap.

While reforms helped officials and business people to prosper, a vast number of Chinese were left with meagre monthly wages in a society whose living standards have reached higher brackets.

No official statistics about the wealth gap have been released by the National Bureau of Statistics since 2000.

The bureau offered an explanation for this in a monitoring report in 2011, which said that the Gini index couldn’t be calculated as the incomes of urban and rural residents are calculated separately.

A report released by the China Development Research Foundation in July said the Gini index was 0.45 in 2001 and rose to 0.48 in 2007.

Published on September 17, 2012

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