Income gap widens in china
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Monday August 22, 1:11 PM
China's widening income gap threatening social stability: government
China's rapidly widening income gap has reached dangerous levels, risking social instability by 2010 if the present trend continues, a government report warns.
"China's growing income gap is likely to trigger social instability after 2010 if the government finds no effective solutions to end the disparity," the Ministry of Labour and Social Security warned in the China Daily.
Su Hainan, president of the ministry's income research institute, found income disparity in China had reached the crucial "yellow" stage -- the second most serious in a scale of four defined by the institute.
The situation would deteriorate to the most dangerous "red" stage in 2010 if no effective measures were taken within the next five years, he said.
Violent protests and riots have become common among Chinese frustrated by soaring social inequality, massive corruption and illegal land requisitions, sparking government fears of triggering mass-scale social instability.
The institute found the income gap in China had been expanding quickly since 2003 despite a series of government measures to raise the income of the impoverished people. President Hu Jintao's government took power in 2003, vowing that eradication of poverty was one of its top priorities.
Su was not optimistic about bridging the urban-rural gap as urban incomes were growing nearly twice as fast as rural incomes.
Incomes in Chinese cities were growing at eight to nine percent annually but rural incomes only grew four to five percent yearly, the institute found.
Last year, the average rural income per capita was 2,936 yuan (362 dollars) -- less than a third of the urban income of 9,422 yuan.
Even within the rural community, there was still a yawning gap between the better-off and the poorest farmers. The average farmers earned 3.39 times as much as the government-defined poor farmers last year, compared with 2.45 times in 1992.
Nor was the situation better in the cities: incomes of laid-off workers there have been dropping rapidly while "the wallets of private business owners have been fattening at incredible rates," China Daily said, without giving details.
The income gap has become increasingly worrisome for the government of once-egalitarian China, especially as low- and middle-income earners are increasingly quick to accuse officials of pilfering state assets in the country's dash toward market capitalism.
The National Bureau of Statistics said in June that 10 percent of the nation's richest people enjoyed 45 percent of the country's wealth while the poorest 10 percent had only 1.4 percent of the nation's wealth.