BEIJING (Reuters) - China, fighting to stamp out poverty, will this year move more than two million of its poorest citizens from remote, inland regions to more developed areas, an official of the cabinet, or State Council, said on Tuesday.
The mass relocation of people is a strategy targeted at lifting 10 million citizens out of poverty by 2020, state news agency Xinhua has said.
Some of the villagers will move to areas with better social services, such as schools and hospitals, while others in remote areas will move to places with better roads and water supply, the official, Liu Yongfu, told a briefing.
The numbers would be stepped up gradually and may eventually hit 3 million, added Liu, who heads the cabinet's Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.
"We will talk it over with the localities and accumulate some experience, after that we will increase step-by-step," he said.
Despite two decades of rapid economic growth, poverty remains a huge issue in China, mainly in rural areas, where a lack of jobs drives out adults, leaving behind children and the elderly, often with limited access to schools and healthcare.
China's poor, who make up about 5 percent of a population of nearly 1.4 billion, live mostly in the countryside, and earn less than 2,300 yuan ($362) a year, government and state media say.
In March Premier Li Keqiang promised a boost of 43 percent in funding for poverty relief programs. Last October, the cabinet said China aimed to lift all its 70 million poor above the poverty line by 2020.
In December, Li urged local authorities to provide housing, healthcare, schooling and employment for relocated citizens.
Since kicking off market reforms in 1978, China has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty, but it remains a developing country and the reforms are incomplete, the World Bank says.
Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez