On February 25, Xi Jinping declared that China has made a complete victory in the fight against poverty. He called its poverty alleviation effort “a great glory of the Chinese People, the Communist Party and the Chinese Nation.” The official media have been actively promoting the poverty alleviation narrative prior to the two sessions. Ironically, at the press conference during two sessions, Premier Li Keqiang portrayed a much tougher job market in China. Li mentioned that there is a flexible employment workforce of 200 million that needs government support and that job creation is still among the top six stability measures in China’s macro policy this year.
On March 11, during a speech at the closing press conference of two sessions, Li told the press that China is facing a tough job market this year and there will be 14 million who will be new to the urban labor force, including a record high 9.09 million college graduates. In addition, China needs to secure jobs for the veterans and 278 million migrant workers. Also, there are 200 million flexible employment workers for whom the government needs to provide social security benefits and workers protection programs. The flexible employment workers refers to that part time or temporary workers, who don’t have benefits. Some of them have to work multiple jobs.
It is interesting that in 2020, during the press conference in the two sessions, Li told the press that even though China’s average annual income reached 30,000 yuan (US$4,609), there are still 600 million people who only make 1,000 yuan (US$154) a month. In mid-size cities, 1,000 yuan (US$154) may not even cover the monthly rent. After Li’s remarks during the two sessions in 2020, Li openly advocated the “street market” economic model throughout China, an indication that China’s job market was not doing well.
Li Keqiang’s comments about 200 million flexible employment workers is seen as a slap in the face for Xi Jinping’s poverty alleviation miracle narrative. Political commentator Hu Ping told the Epoch Times that the poverty standard in China is much lower than that of the international standard. If there are 600 million people who only make 1,000 yuan a month, China is far from poverty eradication. The poverty alleviation data is also questionable because it includes some fraudulent data.
1. Wenxuecity, March 12, 2021
2. Epoch Times, March 12, 2021