China becomes first nation to halve poor population

Xinhua article

BEIJING, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) — China halved its impoverished population over the past three decades, according to Huang Yanxin, deputy director of the regulation department under the Ministry of Agriculture.

The accomplishment makes China the first nation to fulfill its objective under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) framework.

“According to China’s standards, the number of poor people dropped from 250 million in 1978 to 14.8 million in 2007,” said Huang.

He made the comments at a press briefing on Premier Wen Jiabao’s attendance at the UN MDG summit in New York on Sept. 25.

The comments also conveyed China had fulfilled the goal of halving poor population, compared with the time when MDG project was established. Set in 2000, the MDG include eradicating extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and improving maternal health, all by 2015.

The percentage of people living in absolute poverty in rural areas plunged from 30.7 percent in 1978 to 1.6 percent in 2007, Huang said.

As to those living a subsistence existence, the number fell from 62 million in 2000 to 28 million last year.

China’s achievements in relieving poverty had been felt by all, Huang stated. China’s poverty reduction promoted development in rural areas, fostered harmony in communities and sped up the process of international poverty relief work.

Huang noted that 2008 marks the 30th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. One of the first steps the country took was to improve rural living standards.

Huang said China had solved the problem of feeding 1.3 billion people during the past 30 years. Compared with 1978, grain output had increased from about 300 billion kg to 500 billion kg in 2007.Amid world shortages of food and soaring prices, China’s food supply and prices remained stable.

“It’s the important contribution Chinese agriculture made to domestic development and global agriculture,” Huang said.

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