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Wealth gap key issue for China

By Huang Shuo (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-10-13 16:44
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After the reform and opening-up started in 1978, "New China" changed its social values again since its founding was declared by Chairman Mao Zedong in 1949. Money became the key standard for ordinary Chinese people to judge whether someone is successful in life. In the process of this transformation, some people fulfilled their own goals of becoming rich through unlawful and immoral ways such as bribery. Meanwhile, a wealth gap in China emerged and is still growing.

Although some people are getting rich, impoverished people still rely on wages. And psychological problems are pervasive in modern Chinese society, forming a ticking time bomb that could undermine future development.

Hatred among low-income groups is growing along with the gap between the rich and the poor in China.

Early in 2010, there was a series of attacks on children in China's schools, and most of the suspects belonged to the low-income and disadvantaged groups. The attacks raised a question: How can China, with the world's largest population, tackle the large gap between the rich and the poor, and the problems of mental illness?

Many impoverished people don't have the necessary dignity and social identity and they face hardships in daily life, escalating psychological pressure. Lack of psychological health guidance and proper channels to release pressure contribute to the seriousness of the issues, which finally can lead to consequences. Some murderers did not even regret their actions, but just considered the death sentence a moksa (a word in Buddhism meaning a kind of relief and relaxation). A real tragedy!

China is in a transition period, and the wealth gap is also inevitable following society's rapid development. How to release the social pressure and balance the huge gap between the rich and the poor is becoming an increasingly significant issue for the Chinese government.

The government should make full use of tax revenue for the poor and disadvantaged groups to ensure the necessities of daily life and expand the social security fund to cover all the people. Listening to the voices of the people and respecting basic freedom of speech are the two key measures that should be adopted by the government to make society more harmonious.

The rich in China should also be cautious about their conspicuous consumption and do more for charity to help people who are having a tough time.

In all, building a harmonious society in China is not easy and requires joint efforts from every strata of society. Not only the government but also the rich should shoulder the responsibility to improve the country by making it more progressive and civilized and let the impoverished people lead a respectable life.

The author is a Beijing-based freelancer in China. He can be reached at larryhuangshuo@gmail.com.