First of all, such a tendency reflects the fact that part of agricultural land is turned to non-agricultural use. Second, agricultural productivity is enhanced. Third, around 260 million rural labourers have migrated into the urban areas and provide considerable remittance to their families in their home towns or villages each year.

Together with the rural reform process the central government launched a poverty reduction programme in a few provinces in western China in 1982 and initiated a nationwide antipoverty strategy in 1986, aimed at providing food and clothing for the poor through promoting development in poor areas. By 1994, the goal of food security was virtually achieved. Subsequent antipoverty schemes have chiefly aimed at eliminating income poverty, and in the main antipoverty measures so far, socioeconomic and human resource development projects have been run. According to the poverty line set by the World Bank (USD 1.25/day per capita consumption or income), China’s urban poverty incidence dropped from 44.5 per cent in 1981 to 0.9 per cent in 2008, whereas the incidence of rural poverty dropped from 94.2 per cent to 22.3 per cent during the same period.