Note to China: Rural development, not consumption is the answer

By Anita Yang

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China’s hopes of an economic recovery fueled by the rural countryside may be dashed. Despite recent government subsidies and provisions to boost the consumption of the country’s 700 million rural residents amid a global financial crisis, it may not be enough to address the more than two decades of exported-oriented growth which has largely benefited industries and urban cities at the expense of the rural populace. Such short-term thinking and stimulus plans ignore a larger and more fundamental problem: that while the country’s growth and stability is inextricably linked to rural development, not enough has been done to promote the livelihoods of rural farmers and residents, many who continue to be mired in poverty. By focusing on consumption, the government is turning a blind eye to the reality that many Chinese have little means to consume.

Anita Yang is Programme Manager at the Global Institute For Tomorrow.