Lijia Zhang SCMP Article: Why fixing inequality is central to China’s common prosperity goal

Lijia Zhang

In a recent SCMP article, Lijia Zhang spoke about the wealth inequality in China and why fixing it is crucial to the goal of achieving common prosperity in the country.

China must urgently deal with the issue of the country’s wealth inequality as letting it fester could put the goal of achieving common prosperity in danger and undermine faith in the government among the impoverished and young people who lack hope for the future

Here are some quotes:

The structural flaws inherent in China’s political system – from state-controlled capitalism to corruption – have all contributed to the problem. The top 10 per cent income share rose from 27 per cent in 1978 to 41 per cent in 2015, approaching levels seen in the United States, according to research by economist Thomas Piketty and his colleagues.

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So far, though, none of the measures taken have proven to be game changers. No fiscal or redistribution policies have taken hold, and China is struggling to achieve its goals in terms of wealth redistribution.

To give the government credit, there have been some efforts to deal with income inequality, primarily aimed at resolving extreme poverty. Official figures indicate some 800 million people have been lifted out of extreme poverty.

Besides reforming redistribution schemes and a regressive tax system, common prosperity demands a better social safety net for those less fortunate and more equal access to healthcare and education. Education used to be an equaliser, but now it has been made into an industry. Children from poor, rural areas stand little chance at competing with their richer urban cousins.

The privileges of state-owned enterprises should be limited, and the private sector should be allowed equal access to financial services and bank loans so it can also flourish. Carrying out those reforms will require the authorities to embrace greater liberalisation and move away from the “party leads everything” mantra – something they might hesitate to do.

Lijia Zhang

Lijia Zhangskilled journalist, author, social commentator and speaker comes from humble beginnings. Born and raised on the banks of the Yangtze River, Lijia Zhang was pulled out of school  at the age of 16 to work at a factory that produced inter-continental missiles.  As an escape route, she taught herself English and dared to pursue her childhood dream of studying journalism.

In her long career as a journalists, Lijia Zhang’s features, features, often very human stories about the plight of China’s “little people”, have been published in South China Morning Post, Far Eastern Economic Review, Japan Times, The Independent, The Observer, Newsweek and The New York Times. Her widely acclaimed English-language memoir, “Socialism is Great!” detailed her journey from being a rocket factory girl to a prominent social commentator. Her inspiring tale of great transformation and views on China through the years have been featured on the BBC, Channel 4, ABC (Australian) CNN, CBS and National Public Radio, among others.

Lijia Zhang has been described by Tony Blair as “an inspiring example of promoting the understanding between China and Britain” in his keynote speech during his state visit to China (1998), has been voted one of the “40 Beijing heroes” by TimeOut Beijing (October, 2008), a subject of a BBC documentary Peschardts People (May 2009) and the recipient of the prestigious International Writer’s Program, University of Iowa, sponsored by the US State Department (2009).

Lijia Zhang‘s speaking  topics include:

  • “Socialism is Great!”
  • Understanding Business Culture
  • Developing a Better Understanding of China’s Past to Better Comprehend Present Day Reforms
  • The Changing Role of Women in China
  • Frog in a Well

Contact us if you would like Lijia Zhang to speak at your next event.


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