In 1978, when rural reform commenced, rural poverty in China was identified among 250 million people. It was measured with a poverty line defined by an annual food grain accessibility of 200 kilograms per capita.

Addressing extreme poverty and child malnutrition for 2011–2020

For the period of 2011–2020 the Chinese government initiated a new programme for rural poverty reduction, and at the end of 2011, it lifted the poverty line to 2,300 Yuan per capita annual net income equivalent to 1.8 USD per day at 2005 purchasing power parity. Measured with the new poverty threshold, the size of rural poverty is estimated at 128 million people, or 13.4 per cent of the total rural population. Among the rural poor, there are 17 million children under the age of 6 years, accounting for 20 per cent of the total rural children at the same age.

In the past three decades, child malnutrition has almost been eliminated in cities.