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Wolfowitz: China no threat to the world
By Xu Binglan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-17 16:00

On a two-week tour of Asia and Europe, the World Bank president flew directly to Lanzhou from Tokyo on October 12, before covering about 375 miles by road as he toured the impoverished province.

The number of people in Gansu living in absolute poverty dropped from 60 per cent of its total population in 1980 to 7 per cent in 2000.

However, the per capita annual income of its 20 million farmers still stood at less than US$200, compared to the national average of over US$1,100.

As a result of poverty, levels of education and healthcare remain low.

In the villages that Wolfowitz visited, slogans are painted on sand brick walls such as "Parents that don't send their children to school are irresponsible," a reflection of the low levels of school enrolment, even for primary education.

A World Bank project has helped Dongchuan Village, close to provincial capital Lanzhou, carry out a water diversion project and a farmer relocation project.
However, villagers say that girls dropping out of primary school for financial reasons is a major problem.

Annual per capita income is US$120 in Dongxiang County. In the county's Heping Village, farmers would have been living with widespread tuberculosis if the government and the World Bank had not initiated a special programme to provide free check-ups and treatment.

When people in the West think of China, they think of Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, skyscrapers, trade surpluses and economic growth, Wolfowitz said.

When talking about China's achievements, World Bank officials focus on poverty reduction -- China has raised 400 million people out of poverty over the past quarter of a century.

But that is only part of the China story, Wolfowitz said.

By the international benchmark of one US dollar per day for living expenses, China still has nearly 100 million living in absolute poverty, World Bank economists say.

What Wolfowitz saw in Gansu served as a vivid "demonstration of how much more work there is to be done," he said.

The World Bank will continue to work with the Chinese Government in poverty alleviation, he said.

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