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China to Raise Poverty Line

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The government is planning to raise the country's poverty bar from 1,196 yuan (US$180) to as much as 1,400 yuan, the 21st Century Business Herald reported Wednesday.

"The poverty line we use now was set just to meet people's basic caloric intake, but the new bar will add in other living standards," an official at the State Statistics Bureau told the newspaper.

"The poverty line will be set to between 1,300 and 1,400 yuan, according to those standards," the official said.

Based on the current poverty line, China's rural poverty rate dropped to 2.8 percent in 2004, down from 18.5 percent in 1981, the report said.

However, there are still tens of millions of people living in poverty in the country, said Fang Xiaojian, director of the State Council's leading poverty alleviation office. The office is compiling proposals for the rural poverty reduction and development program for the next ten years.

Wang said poverty alleviation does not just mean an increase of income. Education, sanitary conditions and health conditions will also be included, he said.

But the report added that China's poverty alleviation spending relies on its financial resources. Whether a 1,300-yuan or 1,400-yuan poverty line can be realized depends on resources of different departments.

According to a survey conducted by the World Bank in 2005, there are about 250 million people in China whose daily spending is less than US$1.30.

(Xinhua News Agency October 27, 2010)

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