When Premier Li is not safe with his words, who can tell the truth in China?


Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was requested for a self-criticism with the Communist Party after he revealed the livelihood truth of half the country’s population still under poverty and encouraged the policy of returning to “street vendor economy” to solve the unemployment crisis.

In the past week or so, local governments have encouraged people to set up open-air stalls as full or part-time jobs – amid an unprecedented wave of unemployment caused by the economic fallout following the coronavirus outbreak.

During a video-based press conference in Beijing on May 28, the Premier admitted that China has 600 million people with a monthly income of 1,000 yuan ($140).

“It’s barely enough to cover monthly rent in a mid-sized Chinese city,” said the Premier, “The poverty alleviation task is getting heavier as some people may fall back again into poverty due to the coronavirus.”

What the Premier has told is China’s most realistic reality: the middle and lower-income groups are the silent majority of this society.

Premier Li praised the example of Chengdu, which generated 100,000 jobs overnight by setting up 36,000 street vending units.

But this is a different tone from what President Xi Jinping has told in his latest speech on May 31st.

“Building a well-off society in an all-round way has made historic achievements, ” according to Xi, “From the perspective of people’s living standards, the goal of doubling the per capita income of urban and rural residents in 2020 set by the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China can be achieved on schedule.”

Under pressure from US sanctions and condemnations from the international communities over its cover-up of the coronavirus, the Chinese government is running short of ways to deal with its collapsing domestic economy.

Since March, local authorities in many parts of China have eased controls over mobile stalls. More street vendors have been given the green light to operate in Shanghai, Gansu, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hebei, and other cities.

In the southwestern city of Chongqing, the government provides 10,000 square meters of commercial area free for small vendors. In Jiangxi province, the Nanchang municipal government issued a policy on May 26 to designate 100 streets to open as a night market. In Ruichang, a city in Jiangxi province, market administration staff called vendors in person, asking them to resume business in designated areas.

On May 27, the central government’s Guidance Commission on Building Spiritual Civilization announced new requirements. “Running businesses on roads, roadside markets, mobile vendors” are no longer listed in the assessment criteria for maintaining a “civil city.”

After Premier Li’s press conference, state-run media have positively publicized “roadside stalls to make a living” and praised it as “energy of smoke and fire” rather than labeling it “dirty, messy, poor” as it did in the past.

But in less than ten days, people see the “returning to street markets” as a struggle between President Xi and Premier Li. And the Central Propaganda Ministry issued a statement to restrict the use of the term “street vendor economy”.

Was Li Keqiang really telling the truth? Beijing Normal University recently undertook a survey into the revenue distribution in the country and they randomly selected 70,000 representative samples in analyzing the problem.

The results show that 39.1% of the population in China has a monthly income of less than 1,000 yuan, which translates into a population of 547 million people. At the same time, the population with a monthly income of 1,000-1090 yuan is 52.5 million, so the total population of less than 1090 yuan is 6,100 million people, accounting for 42.85% of the national population. Therefore, as the Prime Minister said, the population size of about 1,000 yuan (1090 yuan to be precise) is below 600 million people.

Of the 600 million people, 5.46 million have no income, 220 million have a monthly income of less than 500 yuan, 420 million have a monthly income of less than 800 yuan, and 550 million have a monthly income of less than 1,000 yuan. The monthly income of 100 million people is less than 1090 yuan. If the standard of 1090-2000 yuan is used to define low- and middle-income people, the total population of this group will reach 364 million.

According to the standards of the World Bank, the middle-income standard is that adults earn between US$10 and US$100 per day, that is, annual income of US$3650 to US$36500. Based on the exchange rate between USD and RMB 1:6.7, the World Bank’s middle-income standard is 24,400 to 244,500 yuan, and the converted monthly income standard is between 2000 and 20,000 yuan (accurately between 2033 and 20375 yuan), it shows that this group accounts for 31.1% of the national population, so the population size is about 438 million people.

While the Premier is not safe telling the truth of the country, how can he manage the national economy and how the rest of the population is safe with their freedom of speech?

By Winnie Troppie


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