The Xiaokang agenda calls for a growing share of China’s wealth to be invested in poverty reduction and closing the inequality gaps most notably between urban and rural areas and different population groups. The UN Country Team is helping the Chinese government to complement economic development with social and economic policies that directly benefit the poor and that deal with issues closely related to poverty, such as health care, environmental protection and access to education. Rural China lags behind the cities in terms of wealth, infrastructure, opportunities, acces to basic public services and a host of other measurements of development and well-being. The UN Country Team focuses on improving policies on farmland registration and protection, food security, increasing agricultural productivity and rural access to financial services. An equally important element in the work of the UN Country Team is promoting policies and programmes to increase access to adequate schooling and health care services, at village and township level, as a way to contribute to alleviating rural poverty, elevating the quality of rural labor and sustaining rapid economic growth.
Among the target groups of these policies are women, the disabled, minority groups and migrant workers. China’s cities too, are experiencing growth in specific types of poverty. During the late 1990s, many state-employed workers were laid off and many have still not found formal work. Most of the legions of unskilled, unregistered migrant workers coming to the cities receive barely adequate wages and have little job security. Legal and social discrimination and limited access to services exacerbate their poverty.
Finding an optimal balance between economic, social and environmental development is perhaps the most important challenge facing China. The UN Country Team stands by as a committed partner for the achievement of Goal 1 of the Millennium Development Goals. Much of the UN cooperation described on this website is geared to reducing poverty and ending the inequalities that still burden China’s society.
The UN’s work in China in this area is coordinated by its Theme Group on Poverty and Inequlity.