From Forbes' top ten to a dollar a day, China's new leadership faces growing wealth gap

(CBS News) BEIJING - China is changing leadership this month. On Thursday, China's Communist Party began a meeting that's held once every 10 years, in which the people will be told who their new leaders are.

That leadership has to manage a China that is evolving into a nation of haves and have-nots.

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The opening of the Congress was a choreographed spectacle of power and pride.

But outgoing President Hu Jintao told the assembled delegates the Communist Party's greatest success -- China's economic development -- has created one of its greatest threats: A growing divide between rich and poor.

Huang Nubo, a 56-year-old real estate developer, said he is lucky to get in on China's economic expansion.
Huang Nubo, a 56-year-old real estate developer, said he is lucky to get in on China's economic expansion.
CBS News

On one side is Huang Nubo, a 56-year-old billionaire real estate developer.

He was poor as a boy, he told CBS News, but he's rich and powerful now, on Forbes' list of the world's wealthiest people. He started with one piece of property 10 years ago. Now his company owns apartments, malls and resorts around the world.

He was lucky, he said, to get aboard China's economic expansion. China's cities are booming, prosperity didn't reach many rural areas, and now the economy is slowing.

When asked what word would describe his life, farmer Jin Dengshan says "hard."

Jin Dengshan, his wife and three young children live in rural Henan Province on less than $800 a year they earn selling mushrooms. They are some of the 128 million Chinese who subsist on less than $1.25 a day.

"I resent rich people," he said. "It's so unfair."

His neighbor Jin Xinzhen said he's too poor to get married.

"We are like 1,000 miles away from the rich. We couldn't catch up if we had a rocket," he said.

When they instituted capitalist reforms, China's leaders said "to get rich is glorious." But Thursday, Hu Jintao warned of social unrest if the new leaders fail to close the income gap.

  • Bill Whitaker

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