China has achieved strong and sustained economic growth since the 1980s, but poverty persists, especially in remote rural areas. Even so, according to the World Bank, from 1981 to 2007, the proportion of China's population living in poverty fell from 65 percent to 4 percent.
Report from the West
Beggars in the southern city of Canton (Guangdong) tend to congregate at the railroad station, parks and hotels. Some are streetwise children who play on the sympathies of passers-by, especially foreigners.
All explanations point to the nationwide problem of unemployment, which the central government still has yet to solve.
Foreigners seldom see beggars in Peking. During the harsh winter in the north, many beggars hop freight trains and head south for warmth, food and possible work, a Chinese student explained.
"China's unemployment brings return of beggars"
United Press International
April 17, 1981
Lu Linhui, a professor in Peking University's social sciences department, said China set up an anti-poverty office in 1986 and "without a doubt, the office has done a great job in helping people shake off poverty. What's worrying is that the income gap between the rich and poor is wider than ever. China should really adjust its economic structure to shorten the gap. Otherwise, more people will fall into poverty than get out of it."