Top 1% control 3rd of China's wealth

Top 1% control 3rd of China's wealth

BEIJING - The top one percent of households in Communist-ruled China control more than one third of the country's wealth, while the bottom 25 percent control just one percent, official media said, citing an academic report.

A woman collects construction waste in a rubbish dump in Hefei, central China's Anhui province in December 2012

The 2012 figures contained in a Peking University report released late Friday reveal the massive breadth of China's social inequality, a widespread source of anger in the country.

The wealth gap is also of significant concern for the ruling Communist Party, which places huge importance on preserving social stability to avoid any challenge to its grasp on power.

"One percent of households at the top level nationwide control more than one third of the country's wealth. Twenty-five percent of families at the bottom level only own one percent of the country's wealth," the website of the People's Daily newspaper said late Friday in a report on the university's statistics.

"The difference between wages in the cities and the rural areas is the main reason behind China’s unequal wealth," the newspaper added.

The report includes an alarmingly high Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality with 0 representing total equality and 1 representing total inequality.

Government statistics claim the figure stood at 0.47 in 2012, which would put it close to the US, which had an index figure of 0.56 in 2009, according to the World Bank.

The Peking University report puts the figure for "family households" in China in 2012 at 0.73, the People's Daily said.

It is unclear if the social groups analysed in the report are different to those surveyed by authorities.

Since taking office as president last year, Xi Jinping has touted the catchphrase "Chinese dream" which, though vaguely defined, is meant to encourage unity, national rejuvenation and pride.

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