China tries to plug its wage gap

Scott Tong Mar 5, 2007

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: Today, China opened its National People’s Congress. One of the main concerns in China right now is the gap between rich and poor. Scott Tong is our reporter in Shanghai.


SCOTT TONG: The median annual income in Chinese cities is $1,500. Folks in the countryside make a third that.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has long vowed to address the issue and create what leaders call a Harmonious Society.

In a speech today, Wen vowed to “protect social equity and justice.” Part of that includes a new plan to boost spending on rural hospitals and schools.

William Hess is with the forecasting firm Global Insight.

WILLIAM HESS: The economy is really moving at many different speeds, where you have the coastal regions doing much to catch up with cities and industries around the world. But that growth is slowly trickling westward and those provinces are still in many ways years, decades behind.

Not everyone thinks China’s growing wealth gap can be narrowed. But if it is, hundreds of millions of people would rise out of poverty and start buying stuff, homemade and imported.

And that would narrow that pesky trade gap with the United States.

In Beijing, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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