In the video "Poor Chinese Girl eats RATS" (which is from the same source as the one deriding China for declaring itself a "developing country", FWTW) it is said that:

their blustering of lifting all these 1.4 billion people out of poverty. It's just marketing! It's nonsense! It was achieved simply by lowering the benchmark of what it is considered to be poor. So, in China if you make more than 90 cents a day you're no longer considered to be impoverished. [...] It's simple, you're not poor as long as we lower the threshold for being poor. So you were poor before we did that.

Did China make such a claim? And was it achieved mainly by lowering the poverty threshold?

  • Good question. I wouldn't waste your time with this guy. He's the worst of YT. If you're bored, I'd suggest BadEmpanada. Jul 30, 2022 at 2:02

1 Answer 1


To be lifted out of poverty you have to have been in poverty and move out of poverty. In 2020, the Chinese Census for the first time showed over 1.4 Billion people. That means in no way can China have lifted that many people of poverty (unless you're referring to a cumulated amount that includes the past, the deceased, or prior governments). It's a nonstarter, and I can't find any evidence of the Chinese having made the claim. The claim by the World Bank is 800 million people lifted out of poverty since 1978.

The remainder of the claim pertaining to changing definitions may be true, but it shouldn't matter.

  • The international community doesn't rely on the Chinese definition of poverty, for example the World Bank uses the International Poverty Line of $1.90 and still shows a massive reduction,

    World Bank poverty in China

  • From what I found, when compared to the International Poverty Line, the Chinese definition of poverty isn't less stringent at $0.90, it's more stringent at $2.30. So the whole notion of altering definitions to fudge the numbers seem to be unfounded.

  • You can always disagree on the poverty line: it's philosophical and subjective. The World Bank provides two other metrics: for countries at a higher level of development $5.50 (upper-middle income), or $3.20 (lower-middle income). However, to move from one definition to another seems to commit the same type of fallacy alleged in the claim. In 1978 China was developing. Now, China is consider upper-middle income. But, looking at either of those graphs still shows extraordinary achievements by the Chinese regardless of definition, and it can't be argued it's the Chinese changing the definition to achieve these results.

    Chinese poverty at $3.20 and $5.50


  • There are different ways poverty is quantified.
  • The international community doesn't care about the Chinese definition.
  • The Chinese definition is more aggressive than the lowest World Bank poverty line.
  • With any measure of poverty, China shows amazing progress over time.

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