From the horse's mouth:
The number of China's wealthiest is expected to expand to an estimated number of 320,000 people by the end of 2009 who own about 9 trillion yuan ($1.29 trillion) in private equity value, says a report released on Monday.
Get that? Just 320,000 people - That is 0.025% of the population - control a third of the wealth of the whole nation. In an avowedly communist country. Obviously, the Chinese are so excited about showing how wonderfully they are doing that they forgot the point of it all. Those pesky Little Red Books - so easy to mislay.
The China Private Wealth Report 2009, co-conducted by consultancy group Bain & Company and China Merchants Bank (CMB), says the group of multimillionaires in the Chinese mainland had expanded to nearly 300,000 in 2008, with the number of the people with private equity worth at least 100 million yuan rose to about 10,000.
The report shows the apparent potential growth of private wealth with a steady momentum despite the global economic crisis.
China's richest group grabbed about a total of 8.8 trillion yuan in equity, or 29 percent of the country's 30-trillion-yuan GDP in 2008. The report also projects an increase of 6 percent in the number of China's wealthiest this year. They will be holding more than 9 trillion yuan, up 7 percent from last year....
The work report delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao in mid-March targets the rural poor at a new standard. The nation sets the new poverty line at 1,196 yuan of per capita annual income, netting a broader 40.07 million, or 0.03 [sic] percent of the total population. (1)
The stats at the other end of the scale are also interesting. Based on 2008 figures, the population of China is about 1,300,000,000. So the population defined as 'in poverty' is actually 3%, going by the figures in the article. Obviously, someone forgot that you divide the sample by the whole field, then multiple by one hundred. Though I wouldn't take the figure of 3% at face value. The truth is more like 15% , based on the data below - unless the're been some signifigant changes in the last six months.
The official poverty line is set lower than the World Bank standard measurement, because (according to the ever reliable and honest Chinese government) it is cheap to live in China. More likely, setting the rate low allows the bastards of Beijing to pretend half those living in poverty aren't:
What friends of compromise the children of the Great Helmsman are! Faced with the gulf between the truth and their own figures, they have charted a middle road, wisely eschewing honesty in favour of contiuning to tell a (marginally) less extreme lie! Remorseless in their war on poverty - which would have been eradicated in the Worker's Paradise by now, if it were not for the continual activity of the Capitalist Mainroaders and the reactionary imperialists, and the nefarious influence of the Chiang Kai Shek and the Gang of Four from beyond the grave - they have decided to increase the poverty threshold to a level still well short of the minimum needed to live on!
The cost of living in China is lower that in many other countries, hence the existing poverty threshold is an income of 1,067 yuan ($152) a year.
So if the proposed 1,300-yuan-a-year ($186) income (equivalent to $1 a day in other countries) becomes the new threshold, the number of Chinese living in poverty would almost double to 80 million.
About 43 million people were living below the poverty line in the country's rural areas in 2007. Their number in urban areas was more than 22 million.
The proposal to raise China's poverty line was put forward much before last month, when the global yardstick was changed after the World Bank (WB) raised its poverty threshold from $1 to $1.25 a day.
According to the new WB criterion, about 207 million Chinese people were living in poverty in 2005.
That was 77 million more than the estimate in 2004, when the global poverty benchmark for the world was an income of less than $1 a day. (2)
Bear in mind, this isn't relative povery such as we enjoy in the west - this is real, can't buy food to eat, sort of poverty. 15% of the population are in thi situation, living on well under $1 a day, while a quarter of a tenth of one percent own one third of the country's GDP.
1 - "Number of multimillionaires may hit 320,000 in '09" by Du Wenjuan, publsihed on chinadaily.com, 31st of March, 2009.(http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-03/31/content_7635464.htm)
2 - "China set to raise poverty line," unattributed article published by China Daily, 8th of September, 2008. Reproduced on china.org. (http://www.china.org.cn/china/national/2008-09/03/content_16378509.htm)