Rise in Billionaires Tests China’s Rich-Poor Divide

As China’s economy grows at rocket speed, politicians are becoming increasingly concerned about the gap between rich and poor. Reuters reports:

China’s transformation from an impoverished backwater to the world’s second-largest economy has created a growing army of super wealthy, with the number of billionaires nearly doubling to 115, according to the Forbes annual list of the world’s richest people.

Some have gained more than others. A maxim widely attributed to former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said that “to get rich is glorious,” but that wealth has gone to a narrow segment of the populace.

Rural incomes have been rising more slowly than urban incomes for two decades — a factor that could threaten social stability in a country where 150 million people still live on just $0.50 a day.

The issue is especially thorny for Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, who have largely staked their public legitimacy on addressing the widening wealth gap.

Also related: “China’s Ruling Party Vows to Root Out Corruption” from Business Week and “China, Russia drive growth in world’s billionaires” from Reuters.

Read more about the wealth gap in China via CDT.

March 10, 2011 1:46 PM
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