With China’s 18th National party Congress currently taking place, the country’s new leaders will face an increasingly difficult task to maintain the economic growth that has seen it become the second richest country in the world. The political handover comes amid large gaps between rich and poor in many parts of the country. 79 year old farmer Tai Lianqing, is one of 300 million people in China who still live off the land. He said that life has improved in the past ten years, but that he still earned far less than those in the cities.
"We can't compare with anybody else, but if we compare own situation now with that before, it is better, many times better. Of course we can't compare with big cities. For example, on income. Those people earn several thousand yuan a month, but we only earn two or three thousand yuan a year. The difference is huge."
Despite China prospering in the last ten years, it has not emerged unscathed from the global economic crisis. Slowing growth has led to increasing complaints in the country over the pace of political reform. Whilst people such as Tai struggle to live off the land, the wealthy political elite have been accused by media outlets such as the New York Times of corruption and hypocrisy.
Economist Mao Yushi warned that if China’s economic growth continued to fall, and those in power refuse to change their ways, then the new regime would soon run into trouble.
"If the rate of economic growth falls -- and I believe this is highly likely -- then unemployment and income problems amongst the common people, combined the government's abuse of power and other issues, will create problems"
The widening wealth gap could lead to mass unrest in the country and threaten the level of control the one party state currently holds. If the Communist party is to keep the people happy, then they will need to find a way of doing more social good with less economic growth.
I am Ann Salter, thanks for watching. Follow us for the latest coverage of China’s 18th National Party Congress, as the country undergoes this historic regime change.
Presented by Ann Salter
Written by Alfred Joyner