China’s recent economic growth has expanded industrialization and urbanization, upgraded consumption, increased social mobility, and initiated a shift from an economy based on agriculture to one based on industry and services. However, more than half of China’s people still live in rural areas—where average income per capita is less than a third of the urban average.
China has adopted a new development paradigm in its 11th Five-Year Plan (covering 2006–11), emphasizing the building of a Harmonious Society (he xie she hui) with more balanced development across regions. The new development paradigm adopts a “scientific view of the development process” that emphasizes sustainable growth and “people-centered.” The government has increased its commitment to pro-poor, pro-rural programs, with attention being turned toward relative poverty reduction and narrowing the rural-urban income divide. Informatization—defined as the transformation of an economy and society driven by information and communications technology (ICT)—is increasingly being explored as a way of helping poor people.