China Focus: Rising incomes fuel "sense of gain" among Chinese

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-28 16:37:13|Editor: Mengjie
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BEIJING, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Despite rising housing prices, Han Jianhua, an assistant director of a furniture company in east China's Fuzhou City, felt confident about buying a home in the near future.

"A bicycle was all I owned when I started working five years ago. Now I drive my own car to work. My next plan is to buy an apartment and settle in the city," he said.

Han's monthly pay was about 3,000 yuan (440 U.S. dollars) when he started as an ordinary employee. Thanks to multiple promotions, his income has doubled.

"Including my wife's salary, we believe it will not be a problem to buy a home after some time," he said.

The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012 proposed to increase people's income and boost their "sense of gain." A series of measures have been implemented over the past five years, making sure the country's "centenary goal" of building a "moderately prosperous society in all respects" will be realized by 2020.

In addition to continuous job creation in both urban and rural areas, the central government has worked with local authorities to raise standards for pensions, minimum wages and social welfare in recent years.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the per capita disposable income of the country was 23,821 yuan in 2016, up 44.3 percent compared with the 2012 figure, and an actual increase of 33.3 percent after adjusting for inflation.

In the meantime, the income gap between urban and rural residents is also narrowing. Statistics show that the per capita disposable income of rural residents was 12,363 yuan last year, an actual increase of 36.3 percent over 2012.

Zhang Yan, in Taiping Town in Changchun, provincial capital of Jilin, never thought he could step away from farm work and spend weeks traveling around the country each year.

"I make tens of thousands of yuan from farming and machinery rentals each year," he said. "We no longer need to worry about food. We now want to see more of the world."

Higher incomes have changed consumption in China.

Han Haoxuan, a native of Nanchang in east China's Jiangxi Province, enjoys going to see movies and theater in his spare time.

"The performance market has boomed in recent years, so we have more opportunities to go to the theater and enjoy the shows," he said.

China's box office reached 45.7 billion yuan (6.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2016, attracting 1.3 billion movie-goers, data from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television showed.

Meanwhile, per capita consumption in the country was 17,111 yuan in 2016, up 33.1 percent from 2012. Average per capita consumption in cultural, educational and entertainment activities registered an annual increase of 9.1 percent between 2012 and 2016.

Spending on meat, egg, dairy and sea food products in rural areas grew as people sought better living standards, as did purchases of electric appliances and private cars.

In 2012, rural residents owned only six vehicles per 100 people. Last year, it was 17.

"The change in consumption habits leads to transformation in supply and demand, and in the end promotes the growth of relevant industries and economic development," said Jin Xiaotong, professor at the business school of Jilin University.

Since the 18th CPC national congress, poverty eradication has been a priority for officials at all levels. Targeted poverty alleviation has transformed the lives of tens of millions of Chinese people below the poverty line.

According to official data, there were 98.99 million impoverished rural people in 2012. By the end of 2016, the figure was reduced to 43.35 million. About 14 million people shook off poverty each year on average.

Rural residents in far west Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have become paid workers at workshops in their villages thanks to assistance programs that pair companies and provincial governments from China's developed eastern and southern regions with poor areas in Xinjiang.

Kiwi fruit, peppers, peaches and tobacco produced in the remote mountains of central China's Hunan Province, home to one of the poorest regions in the country, have become hot sellers, thanks to better transportation and preferential agricultural policies.

The 18th CPC national congress set a goal for rural and urban residents' per capita incomes to double by 2020 compared with 2010. Official data showed that by 2016, the per capita disposable income of the country registered an actual increase of 62.6 percent over the 2010 level.

A promising employment situation and economic development have provided powerful support for the rapid growth of incomes in China, said Gao Wenshu, a researcher at the Institute of Population and Labor Economics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Looking at the current situation, the 'income doubling' goal is likely to be realized before 2020," he said.