UN Warns of China's Wealth Gap
[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 05/12/19; December 19, 2005.]
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA December 19, 2005
NEW YORK, DECEMBER 17: The United Nations has warned that the increasing wealth gap between rural and urban areas in China, which is among the highest in the world, could threaten the stability of the Communist nation despite its government's efforts to stem the growing tide.
Though China has been able to lift 250 million people out of poverty over the past 25 years, the inequality in income has doubled, according to new report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
While the average city resident earns 1,000 dollars a year, the figure drops sharply to just 300 dollars in the countryside, UNDP says. An urban citizen can also expect to live over 5 years longer than a farmer.
In Tibet, only half of the population can read and write compared to near-total literacy among Chinese living in Beijing, Shanghai or Tianjin. Nationally, women are twice as likely as men to be illiterate.
Khalid Malik, UNDP's Resident Representative, said the Chinese Government has started to tackle these problems.
"This report is particularly timely as the Government is shaping its new economic blueprint to ease the strains of inequality," he said, warning that when economic growth leaves the poor behind, social unrest usually follows.
UNDP cited a number of steps being taken by the government to address the problem, including the abolition of agriculture taxes and compulsory education for the rural poor.
Meanwhile, the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development announced that it will provide a loan of nearly 30 million dollars to help finance an 81-million-dollar initiative benefiting 300,000 poor rural households in China's South Gansu Province.
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