|Government aims to reduce poverty over next decade|
BEIJING, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- An official in charge of poverty reduction efforts said Wednesday that the government will invest more money over the next 10 years in anti-poverty programs.
Fan Xiaojian, head of the Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development under the State Council, or China's cabinet, made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua conducted shortly after the release of a white paper on poverty reduction.
By 2020, the government will realize its goal of providing adequate food and clothing for poverty-stricken people while ensuring their access to compulsory education, basic medical services and housing, Fan said, without giving specific details regarding the government's goals.
According to a white paper issued Wednesday by the State Council Information Office, China's poverty-stricken rural population fell from 94.22 million at the end of 2000 to 26.88 million at the end of 2010.
The government considers those who earn less than 1,274 yuan (about 200 U.S. dollars) in annual income to be impoverished. The standard applied in 2000 was 865 yuan in annual income.
The World Bank considers those living on less than 1.25 U.S. dollars per day to be impoverished.
About two-thirds of China's currently impoverished population previously managed to rise above the national poverty line but sank back down again due to a fragile economic foundation, Fan said.
Fan said he is particularly worried about widening gaps between urban and rural areas, between different regions and between the rich and poor.
The average per capita income of China's urban residents was 3.23 times that of rural residents in 2010, he said.
The government is aware that deep-seated obstacles hindering the development of China's poverty-stricken areas still exist, particularly in undeveloped regions that are difficult to access, Fan said.
"What we are facing is an arduous task," he added.
The government sees laborers living below the poverty line as its primary target for poverty relief efforts over the next 10 years, Fan said.
In the meantime, the government will focus on poverty reduction in mountainous areas in the western provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu and the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, as well as the Tibet autonomous region and the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.
China's spending on poverty reduction rose from 12.75 billion yuan in 2001 to 34.93 billion yuan in 2010, representing an average annual growth rate of 11.9 percent, with total investment reaching 204.38 billion yuan over the past decade, according to the white paper.