Chinese poverty over the last 30 years

China Law Blog noted that China has brought down poverty impressively over the last 30 years.

I worked as an English teacher for a brief time in 1991 when I first lived in China. I taught at the Anhui Institte of Finance and Economics in Bengbu. My teaching partner and I were the only foreigners in that city of 500,000 at that time.

Life was simple, and the whole winter season I saw no green vegetables at all in the cafeteria: potatoes, rice, occasional Chinese white carrots, lots of cabbage and little else.  In America, I knew people by what car they drove, and in China I could spot them by what clothes as they only had one set.

I gave an oral English test to my students in the spring of 1992 where I had 40 topics I put in a bag, and they had to be able to take one out at random and talk about that topic in English for 3 minutes.  I met privately one by one with each student. One student from Anhui pulled out the topic, hunger. I though he would talk about feeling hungry before lunch. That was not the case. He began to explain to me how his family often had no food, and he was left hungry or deeply underfed for weeks and even months. I listened transfixed and did not make notes on his diction. These 19 year old kids had seen a lot in their few years of life.

That is not often the case in China any more, and you do not know people by their one set of clothes anymore.

I had a chance to visit Bengbu for a rural wedding recently, and the peasant homes were better than city dwellers in 1991. The college is 7 times as big and 7 times as grand. The city now has a skyline.

The Chinese government and Chinese people have done a great job at developing the country . It is now a big market for Western companies and may the children not again tell their teachers about personal hunger like that.

Any thoughts?

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Posted in: China, Chinese Culture

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