Tuesday 05 Jul 2022 | 08:24 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 05 Jul 2022 | 08:24 | SYDNEY

China: What 'grinding poverty' means


Sam Roggeveen


16 May 2012 14:44

I may have recounted once before the story of a Chinese delegation, visiting the Lowy Institute, exhorting us to visit not just China's gleaming new mega-cities but to 'look behind the couch' at China's under-developed interior.

This is a reasonably common tactic from Chinese officials and is somewhat self-serving, intended to dispel foreign anxieties about China's rise ('A threat to the region? But look how much we still have left to accomplish at home!'). Still, there's truth to the proposition that China's economic rise is incredibly uneven, and it's brought home by this wonderful little home-made documentary by blogger Sinostand, who cycled into China's countryside.

In eight minutes you get a story not only about poverty but about surveillance of foreigners, the one-child policy, and the housing bubble. On the poverty issue, the shot (1:22) of a woman working a type of mill (presumably grinding the hulls from rice grains) is particularly striking. I imagine the machinery on display there hasn't changed in several centuries.