BEIJING, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- China's impoverished population has declined for the first time since the poverty line was raised in 2011, although poverty alleviation work remains arduous, a government office said Tuesday.
The poverty-stricken population in rural areas stood at 98.99 million people around the end of 2012, down 23.39 million compared with 2011, the poverty alleviation office of the State Council said Tuesday.
The impoverished population in rural areas accounted for 10.2 percent of the country's total rural population, 2.5 percentage points lower than in 2011, according to the office.
The central government allocated 299.6 billion yuan (47.7 billion U.S. dollars) in 2012 for poverty alleviation efforts, surging 31.9 percent from the previous year.
Rural people with an annual net income per capita of 2,300 yuan or less are classified as poor under the current poverty standard adopted in 2011, an increase from the 1,274-yuan standard used previously.
But the current poverty line, which is equivalent to just 1 U.S. dollars a day, is still lower than the World Bank poverty line of 1.25 U.S. dollars a day.
At the same time, the income gap between China's rich and poor is wide.
The National Bureau of Statistics said in January that China's Gini coefficient, an index used to indicate a given country's wealth gap, reached 0.474 in 2012, higher than the warning level of 0.4 set by the United Nations.