Gansu’s deadly marathon exposes the truth about China’s poverty

When the “National Poverty Eradication Summit” was held on February 25, the Communist Party of China would not have imagined that a domestic 100km cross-country running event in Gansu three months later would kick a big hole in the paper mache “poverty eradication”.

On May 22, this cross-country race, which was positioned as an elite level in Jintai County, Baiyin City, Gansu Province, had 21 deaths (mortality rate of more than 10%) among 172 participants with previous experience because of the extreme cold weather, which was recognized by public opinion at home and abroad as a man-made disaster rather than a natural disaster, raising several questions.

For example, a land media seven questions: 1. extreme weather why still engage in “marathon”; 2. this “sudden change” “hail, freezing rain, wind and other catastrophic weather” really can not be predicted? 3. “Steep terrain” “slippery rocks”, these factors have not been considered by the organizers? Do you have a complete safety and medical team? (In fact, one shepherd was able to save six participants, compared to the crime of the race organizers.)

The BBC, the international mainstream media, also posted an article asking four questions: 1. what killed these runners, 2. was the rescue appropriate, 3. what mistakes the race organizers may have made, and 4. does it reflect a bigger problem in similar races?

All of these questions and interrogations have their validity and value, but what I want to point out in this article is a deeper factor behind this race tragedy: poverty.

It is well known that marathons have become an economic bonanza in China, with, for example, 1,828 races held across the country in 2019, an average of more than five races per day. However, the marathon has mature international experience and strict requirements for the race course sections, and many places in China cannot meet the requirements, so they engage in relatively unregulated marathon cross-country races. Through the uninhabited area of the marathon cross-country race, is a kind of extreme sports, high risk, Gansu this event belongs to such. Then why do many Chinese runners participate in it? Not because of money or interest, but many people do this for a living.

For example, one of the victims of this race, 34-year-old Huang Guanjun, the winner of the National Paralympic Games marathon from Beichuan, Mianyang, Sichuan, said he wanted to run the world and give his parents all the prize money. According to the mainland media, Huang Guanjun became deaf and mute due to a childhood illness and injection error, but he loved to run, his main source of income is also dependent on the prize money of various small marathons, the prize money is not very high, but a few hundred to him is very important. The company’s main source of income also relies on various small marathon prizes, but the prize money is not high, but a few hundred dollars is important to him. Also with a more mournful expression.

Huang Guanjun such a paralympic champion’s situation, triggered a large number of netizens concern, including the microblogging topic “marathon accident in the death of the paralympic champion”, reached 36,000 times to discuss, and received 110 million times to read. Some netizens expressed their indignation: “(Huang Guanjun) won the honor for the motherland, but can not get the basic living support! Sad and weepy.”

Gansu this competition, the reason why a large number of players such as Huang Guanjun to participate, the main reason lies in its “money” “excess prize money” publicity gimmick: the championship prize money of 15,000 yuan, the first runner-up 12,000 yuan, the third runner-up 9,000 yuan, the first The minimum prize for the top 10 is RMB 2,000. For the general public, the prize money is $1,600 if you finish the race.

To be fair, the prize money is not that high; moreover, the participants have to pay an entry fee of $1,000, which makes the economic benefits of participating very effective. Even so, the Huang Guanjuns had to participate; and the reason behind the failure of some contestants to withdraw in time for the competition – poverty – is really heartbreaking.

In fact, in China, the problem of poverty among athletes has not been news for a long time. For example, the world marathon champion Ai Dongmei, born in 1981, had his collarbone broken by the coach and his feet crippled by the training, and retired to sell gold medals and set up a stall. Another example is that Tang Ying, the Asian Champion Diving Champion born in 1986, was forced to set up a stall with a monthly income of 800 yuan after she retired because she refused to be the lover of an official.

This is a case of “widespread impoverishment” in China, where poverty was widespread in 1978, and more than 40 years after the “reform and development”, China has become the world’s worst country in terms of wealth disparity, due to the decadence of institutions and policies, and the comprehensive and systematic corruption. China’s social structure has evolved into the most dangerous “inverted T-shape” (traditional societies are pyramidal, while developed countries in Europe and America are olive-shaped with a large middle and two small ends).

According to a study by Professor Li Qiang of Tsinghua University (published in the February 2017 issue of Jiangsu Social Science), the proportion of the upper class in China is 5.62%, the middle class is 19.12%, and the lower class is 75.25%. Of these, the transitional group of the lower class linked to the middle class represents 4.4% of the total Chinese population, while the marginal middle class is 13.90%, and the latter represents 73% of the entire middle class.

The results of this study were confirmed three years later by Li Keqiang’s speech at a press conference on the closing day of the “two sessions”: “600 million people earn only 1,000 yuan a month, and 1,000 yuan may make it difficult to rent an apartment in a medium-sized city, and now there is an epidemic… “

In fact, the epidemic has exacerbated the divide between rich and poor and the prevalence of poverty in China. Here is an example (provided to me by a friend): Air China, one of the three major airline groups in mainland China, has basically stopped flying on all routes in 2021, and a large number of flight attendants and stewardesses have been laid off, each receiving a few thousand dollars a month for living expenses back home. Because of the small amount of money handed out, many could not afford to rent a room in Beijing and had to go out of town to rent a cheap room to live and continue to look for a way to make a living.

However, against the backdrop of the plague ravaging China and the world, the Communist Party of China (CPC) blatantly declared that in the centennial year of the CPC, the battle against poverty had achieved a comprehensive victory, with 98.99 million rural poor people having been lifted out of poverty under the current standards, 832 poor counties having been removed from the list, 128,000 poor villages having been listed, and overall regional poverty having been solved, completing the arduous task of eliminating absolute poverty and creating yet another This is another human miracle that will go down in history!

What a “human miracle for history!” It is just another big lie. Here are only three points.

First, the Chinese Communist Party’s “war on poverty” mainly targets the rural areas and farmers, but ignores the urban poor. But the scope of urban poverty in China is not small, and it is also quite serious.

Secondly, the CCP’s “poverty eradication” is full of lies, so-called “political poverty eradication” and “poverty eradication by numbers.” On April 24, the mouthpiece CCTV exposed the adulteration of poverty eradication in Luonan County, Shaanxi Province, and also revealed that the “poverty eradication” is not true. On the road, they happened to meet the “5 Guaranteed Households”, which are the key poverty alleviation objects that are supposedly guaranteed food, clothing, housing, medical care and burial, and when they asked, they learned that there was no water available in the resettlement site and they could not live there, and the village cadres were eager to let the poverty alleviation households live there in order to meet the acceptance inspection of the higher level of poverty alleviation. Not only that, in the face of no water available in the village or town, the water conservancy department is a “great political achievement”, was questioned to grab the reporter’s cell phone, poverty alleviation chaos is shocking. There are too many such things, so I won’t cite them here.

Thirdly, the Chinese Communist Party says its “standard for poverty alleviation” is a comprehensive standard, referred to as “one, two, three”. “One” is income, the current standard of 2010 constant price per capita annual income of farmers 2300 yuan (according to price indices, about 4000 yuan in 2020); “two” is not to worry about food and clothing; “three ” is the “three guarantees” to ensure compulsory education, basic medical care, and housing security. Overall, it is higher than the World Bank’s extreme poverty standard, and higher than the absolute poverty line set by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development set by the United Nations in 2015.

Note that the Chinese Communist Party only talks about “absolute poverty” and “extreme poverty” and deliberately does not talk about “relative poverty”; and from common sense, for China, whose GDP per capita exceeds $10,000, “relative poverty” is more relevant. For China, with a GDP per capita of over $10,000, “relative poverty” is more meaningful.

Therefore, the Chinese Communist Party is swapping concepts and engaging in sophistry, avoiding the substance of the issue. The World Bank defines poverty in three categories: low-income countries (GDP per capita below $1,045) living on less than $1.90 per day, also known as extreme poverty; lower-middle-income countries (GDP per capita between $1,045 and $4,125) living on less than $3.20 per day; and upper-middle-income countries (GDP per capita between $4,126 and $12,735) The cost of living is less than $5.50 per day. On a monthly basis, the World Bank standard for extreme poverty is living below RMB 372 per month, the standard for lower middle income poverty is RMB 630, and the standard for upper middle income is RMB 1080.

According to the World Bank standard, the poverty standard for China with a GDP per capita of over $10,000 should be less than $5.50 per day, or less than $1,080 per month. According to the aforementioned Li Keqiang, “600 million people have a monthly income of only 1,000 yuan”, if we use the World Bank standard, about 40% of China’s population is living in poverty (according to the 2019 research report of the Income Distribution Research Institute of Beijing Normal University, 420 million of these 600 million people have an income of less than 800 yuan, 220 In other words, 5.46 million people in China are living below the level of extreme poverty, and 220 million people do not meet the standard of poverty for lower-middle-income countries).

In short, behind the Communist Party’s historic achievement of “eradicating poverty”, there is a generalization of poverty in China and an extreme division between the rich and the poor. The Gansu marathon, which seems to be a coincidence but is inevitable, can be seen as an extreme expression of the truth about poverty in China. Woe to China!