Our top picks this week include articles on poverty and leadership and an interview with one of our favorite China authors.
More Than 82 Million Chinese Live on Less Than $1 a Day (October 15, 2014, China Real Time)
Much is written each week about China's rise and economic clout. In reading those articles, however, it's easy to forget that hundreds of millions of people are still quite poor. China Real Time reports:
China lifted nearly 40 million people out of poverty last year, by its own measure, but more than 82 million rural Chinese still get by on less than $1 a day, a senior government official said.
"Poverty is still a salient problem in China," Zheng Wenkai, a vice-minister at a government office responsible for poverty alleviation and development, said at a news briefing Tuesday, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper. About 200 million Chinese, or 15% of the country's population, would be considered poor by international poverty measures, set at $1.25 a day, Mr. Zheng added.
China defines its rural poor as people who earn annual net income per capita of 2,300 Chinese yuan (about $375) or less, or roughly $1 a day. The World Bank, meanwhile, classifies people who subsist on less than $1.25 a day as living in "extreme poverty."
Did you catch that? In order to even be considered poor in China, one needs to earn $375.00/year OR LESS!
Leader Taps Into Chinese Classics in Seeking to Cement Power (October 11, 2014, The New York Times)
Since Mr. Xi came to power, whole cottage industries have seemingly formed to figure out who he his and what he is up to. Is he a reformer? Is he a tried-and-true Marxist? Is he a Maoist? This article in The New York Times takes a look at how Mr. Xi looks at how traditional Chinese ideas and philosophies influence his governing style:
Seeking to decipher Mr. Xi, who rarely gives interviews or off-the-cuff comments, China watchers have focused on whether he has the traits of a new Mao, the ruthless revolutionary, or a new Deng Xiaoping, the economic reformer. But an overlooked key to his boldly authoritarian agenda can be found in his many admiring references to Chinese sages and statesmen from millenniums past.
Mr. Xi declared his reverence for the past last month at a forum marking 2,564 years since Confucius' birth. Ancient tradition "can offer beneficial insights for governance and wise rule," Mr. Xi said in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where leaders hold congresses and legislative sessions, according to Xinhua, the official news agency.
Back to the future!
Video: Peter Hessler: capturing essence of Chinese society (September 18, 2014, China View)
Any conversation with Peter Hessler about China is worth listening to, and this one is no exception:
Peter Hessler had spent over a decade living in and reporting China before he moved his family to Egypt. His China trilogy – "River Town," "Oracle Bones" and "Country Driving" – has been met with great success. He has thus become known as one of the best-known China writers. China View recently met with Hessler in Beijing, where he came to promote his essay collection "Strange Stones."
Photo Credit: lunch time, by ilmary hyvonen, via Flickr