The global effort to eradicate poverty is once again defined by a stage of post-economic crisis, where China is – through self redemption – bringing about progress to the rest of the world. Its growth is part of a collective pulling mechanism. One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) was to reduce by 50% the number of people living under the poverty line by 2015.
At the beginning of the new millennium, the United Nations pushed for both economic and social development: to overcome a morally unjust worldly situation it was necessary to increase collective prosperity. Thus, in 2008, about halfway through the process, the goal seemed reachable despite the additional efforts required to overcome the financial crisis.
China has offered the highest contribution and shown to be the most successful in doing so. From 1990 to 2007, the Chinese population living under poverty line decreased from 685 million to 213 million. Although defining the term “poverty line” itself may prove problematic due to monetary consumption as well as the currency exchange, the most conventional standard is given by the World Bank with a mere $1.25 per day.
China’s performance is even more outstanding from a percentage point of view. Again, from 1990 to 2007 people living under the poverty line went from 60% to 16%. China’s enormous growth in national income, and its population’s stability have ensured its success. When compared to India, for example, China’s growth is proportionally clear. Although India is a close competitor with China in economic terms, its poverty alleviation is significantly lower: throughout time span previously mentioned, India dimmed its entire population’s poverty line from 51% to 42%.
Actually, the number of indigent people increased between those seven years from 466 million to 489 million. Economically – and thus not ethically nor culturally – China’s end result is statistically better than India’s in terms of success. The means to reach such pleasing numbers were, however, drastic.
China’s “one child policy” was introduced in the 80’s and currently in rule, changed the country’s social structure numerically and socially. Originally Maoist and peasant-based, China changed its national mindset to understand that underdevelopment was the result of overpopulation, as opposed to economic inefficiency based on a capitalistic system.
Through a realist approach, China abandoned its past values to embrace a better present, though it remains uncertain. But if China is richer today – or perhaps just less poor – then it is more aging. More physical labor needs to produce more revenue for retirement purposes, for instance. With no Chinese brothers and sisters and eventually cousins, daily employment will monopolize the country’s activities. If new resources will be available, however, further changes could shape the nation’s socio-economic fabric.
For now, China faces a race against time, where one generation’s sacrifice could improve the wellbeing of the generation that follows.