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How COVID-19 Has Enriched Asia’s Wealthy and Punished Its Poor

29 1 11

Yesterday, the non-government organization Oxfam published a report claiming that the COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in a “staggering rise in inequality” in Asia, inflating the wealth of the region’s billionaires by $1.46 trillion while pushing tens of millions into poverty.

In addition to claiming the lives of more than 1 million Asians, the report argues, COVID-19 has “set back progress on equitable development by decades.”

“COVID-19 has unleashed a health and economic crisis that is exposing and exacerbating high levels of economic inequality in Asia,” the report states. “While rich elites are able to protect their health and wealth, the poorest people and minorities face a greater risk of illness, death, and destitution.”

According to Oxfam, the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing economic and social trends in many Asian countries. It notes that between 1987 and 2019, a period of barreling economic growth in much of the region, the number of billionaires in Asia grew from 40 to 768. This trend has continued – even sharpened – since the onset of COVID-19, with the number of Asian billionaires growing from 803 in March 2020 to 1,087 in November of last year.

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Twenty of these newly-minted billionaires profited directly from COVID-19, “from equipment, pharmaceuticals, and services needed for the pandemic response.” Oxfam’s report advances the staggering claim, sourced from a recent Credit Suisse report, that Asia’s richest 1 percent now control more wealth than the region’s poorest 90 percent.

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While the wealthy were able to shield themselves from the full impact of the coronavirus, secluding themselves in gated communities or traveling abroad to avoid the worst of the lockdowns, such options were not available to those filling out the wide base of the region’s wealth pyramid.

The Oxfam report claims that 147........

© The Diplomat

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