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Growing Economies in China

China, May 10, 2005

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    Mercy Corps loans as small as $250 are helping the people of Chaiyang buy fertilizers that boost crops yields and household incomes. Photo: Jeremy Barnicle/Mercy Corps Photo:

Behind the headlines about China’s double-digit Gross Domestic Product growth and thriving middle class, there is a more complicated story of entire regions that continue to live in desperate poverty.

China’s growth numbers have been phenomenal by any measure: its economy has quadrupled in size since 1978, its economic growth rate has averaged about 10 percent each year for more than a decade and every year it becomes a more important trading partner to the rest of the world.

But as some in China have roared ahead toward economic prosperity, millions of Chinese have been left in the dust, struggling to get some piece of the country’s growing wealth.

China still ranks behind countries like Algeria, Botswana and Turkmenistan in wealth per person. More than 100 million Chinese are living on less than a dollar a day.

The economic boom has significantly widened the income disparity between urban and rural Chinese: city dwellers have approximately three times the disposable income of their counterparts in China’s vast countryside.

Mercy Corps is committed to working with those who have not yet seen the benefits of China’s economic growth. Since 2001, Mercy Corps has been investing in vulnerable communities through microfinance programs that offer start-up capital and technical assistance to enterprising low-income people.

So far, approximately 60,000 people in China have benefited from Mercy Corps’ small loans and training, using that support to turn their aspirations into assets.

Central to Mercy Corps’ mission in China is building the capacity of local Chinese organizations to address their country’s persistent social needs. A vibrant and engaged civil society is key to advancing the cause of secure, productive and just communities.

To achieve these critical goals in China, Mercy Corps partners with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA). This vital, vibrant relationship combines Mercy Corps’ resources and best practices with the local relationships and know-how that are critical to success.