China, one of the most fascinating countries on Earth, has existed for more than 5000 years and is currently the second largest economy on the planet. This country is going through a remarkable and rapid change with widespread economic reforms. Before 1949 China was characterized by extreme poverty, income inequalities, and insecurity. By 1987, the average national life expectancy has more than doubled with increased living standards.
Starting in 1980, due to economic reforms, the standard of living started to climb beyond the basic level. The general population had adequate food, clothing, and housing, and ordinary families could eat a variety of foods, wear stylish clothing, and indulge in luxury items such as electronic appliances, furniture, and shiny personal vehicles.
The level of poverty fell from 84 percent to 16 percent from 1981 to 2005. The infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rates have fallen 39 and 41 percent from 1990 to 2005. The access to telephones increased 94-fold to 57.1 percent of the population having telephones.
China may be a huge economy, but its per capita income is only $5,400, which puts it 90th in the world. Also, China has the second largest number of poor people in the world, only after India, with more than 170 million people living below $1.25 a day international poverty line. Ten percent of Chinese population still live in extreme poverty.
Although the living standard in China is rising in general, the differences between rural areas and big cities, and the eastern seaboard and deep inland remain strikingly high. The World Bank once said that China is one of the most unequal countries in Asia. Although the majority of Chinese feel that they have a higher standard of living than their parents, there are rising concerns over inequality, corruption, and consumer protection.
Even with these problems, China is relentlessly working hard to fix them and reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. The former president of China, Hu Jintao, predicted in his speech that China is aiming to double its 2010 GDP and per capita Income by 2020 for both rural and urban residents. As the years go by, things are looking brighter for this amazing country.
More A Dawn Articles: