Since the mid-l970s, economic reforms have transformed China from one of the most egalitarian societies into one of the most unequal in the world. Wide disparities currently exist between the income levels of a relatively few rich and middle-class Chinese and their fellow citizens who number in the hundreds of millions. This "wealth gap" is particularly acute when one compares the incomes of urban and rural residents, between Chinese living in the interior of the country and those living in the rapidly developing cities on China's eastern coast.The causes of the growing income gap include previous governmental policies that favored city dwellers over farmers, the uneven regional patterns of foreign investment, and the massive outflow of displaced farmers to China's already overcrowded cities in pursuit of manufacturing jobs.Recently, the Chinese government, in recognition of the potential for social instability, and in the face of growing unrest amongst China's poor, has made the elimination of economic and social inequalities a top priority. Plans are in motion to build a more "harmonious society" through the delivery of improved educational and health services to those who appear to have been left behind in China's rush to modernize its economy.This lesson, using clips from the WIDE ANGLE film "To Have and Have Not" (2002), can be used after a lesson on the Communist Revolution and Mao's rule. A basic knowledge of China's geography, of the tenets of Chinese Communism, and of Mao's efforts to redirect the course of China's future by means of the Cultural Revolution, is required for the successful completion of the lesson.
- Humanities, Social Sciences
- Grade Level:
- WIDE ANGLE: Window into Global History