Beijing: China's recent move to substantially raise its threshold of defining rural poverty has come in for praise from the World Bank, which said the new standard matches medium-ranked nations in the middle and low income countries.
   
The nearly doubling of the rural poverty threshold will make almost 130 million people eligible for various social support schemes funded by the government.
   
China's new poverty standard, up by almost a dollar a day, has reached the medium rank in the middle-and-low income countries, Chen Shaohua, a World Bank economist said.
   
Based on the Purchasing Power Parity level in 2005, China's new threshold of defining poverty, or 2,300 yuan (USD 362) in terms of the annual net income of farmers, equals to
USD 1.80 a day, Chen, senior statistician in the Development Economics Research Group of the World Bank was quoted by the official media as saying on Tuesday.
   
Last month's announcement by the Chinese government represented an increase of over 80 percent from the 1,274-yuan standard in 2010. Until now the Chinese government defined those who earned less than 1,274 yuan (about USD 200) in income a year as "poor people".
   
Based on that a recent official survey said 67.34 million rural people were lifted out of poverty in the last decade bringing down the percentage of rural poverty from 10.2 to 2.8 percent.    

China's poverty-stricken rural population fell from 94.22 million at the end of 2000 to 26.88 million at the end of 2010, a white paper on China's poverty alleviation released few weeks ago said.
   
At present China has 26.88 million impoverished people, according to the white paper which also claimed that China has basically solved the problem of providing adequate subsistence, food and clothing for its rural residents, the 36-page white paper claimed.
   
The new purchasing parity level will make 128 million people eligible for government anti-poverty subsidies, or 13.4 percent of the registered rural population, Fan Xiaojian, Head of the Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development under the State Council said.
   
"It is the most exciting news during my more than 20-year career at the World Bank," she said.
   
Her comment was echoed by Wang Yan, also a senior economist with the World Bank.
   
"China has scored big progress in adjusting poverty line. It means China's policy will do more good for the poor who will get more financial support," she said.

At a meeting last week, senior Chinese leaders mapped out efforts to alleviate poverty in the country's rural areas over the next decade as the government tries to narrow a widening wealth gap.
   
The chief target is to provide adequate food and clothing for poverty-stricken people while ensuring their access to compulsory education, basic medical services and housing by
2020.
   
The country had reduced its poverty-stricken population in rural regions to 26.88 million at the end of 2010 from 94.22 million a decade ago, said a government white paper released in mid-November.

Agencies