China’s countryside returning to poverty, says report

Representation Image.  Image: Forest News

DHARAMSALA, 4 Nov: China’s ongoing trade war with the US coupled with the widening rural and urban divide has contributed to its ‘countryside returning to poverty’, PTI reported citing a report compiled by a think tank associated with China’s Agricultural Ministry.

The Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant has stated in its report that China’s rural income has been in decline since 2014 while it has fallen by another 20 per cent in the first half of 2019.

“The current situation is not optimistic, the countryside is returning to poverty,” Ma Wenfeng, an analyst from Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant, which includes the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs as a client was quoted as saying in the report.

It is understood that rural China accounts for more than 40 per cent of the country’s total population.

The report, citing an official data stated that rural per capita income excluding the proportion from migrant workers fell to 809 yuan (USD 114) at the end of June this year, compared with the 1,023 yuan (USD 145) at the end of 2018.

MA has further highlighted the existing government policies that solely focus on how to grow and sell more agricultural products and do not directly address farmers’ long-term welfare,

“We [society] look down on the agriculture sector and farmers are seen as in the lowest class in our society. Only when we provide these workers with the same rights – in terms of pensions, education and so on – can the agriculture [sector] problem be resolved,” MA has said in the report.

The report noted that the development came in the backdrop of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge to eliminate poverty completely by the next year.

Meanwhile, a report on the Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency on Sunday has maintained that over the six years till the end of 2018, Beijing has lifted 82.39 million rural residents out of poverty while it further claimed that more than 700 million Chinese people have been cast off poverty over the past 40 years.

However, many academics and economists have blamed China’s land policy, which dates back to the early years of the Communist Party rule in the 1950s, as the cause of rural problems.

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