An index reflecting the gap between rich and poor reached 0.474 in China in 2012, higher than the warning level of 0.4 set by the United Nations.
Known as the Gini coefficient, the index has been retreating gradually since hitting a peak of 0.491 in 2008, dropping to 0.49 in 2009, 0.481 in 2010 and 0.477 in 2011, Ma Jiantang, director of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), told a press conference.
The index stood at 0.479 in 2003, 0.473 in 2004, 0.485 in 2005, 0.487 in 2006 and 0.484 in 2007, Ma said, citing NBS calculations.
The Gini coefficient has stayed at a relatively high level of between 0.47 and 0.49 during the past decade, indicating that China must accelerate its income distribution reform to narrow the rich-poor gap, Ma said.
"After the financial crisis in 2008, China's Gini coefficient gradually dropped from the peak of 0.491 that year as the government took effective measures to bring benefits for its people," Ma said.
Ma said China needs to deal with relations between the market and efficiency, as well as development and distribution.
China has vowed to double the country's 2010 gross domestic output (GDP) and per capita income for both urban and rural residents by 2020, according to a report released after last year's 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
Ma said that only doubling the GDP and per capita income is not enough. "The country should do a better job at income distribution and strive to make the incomes of low- and middle-income residents grow faster."