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White Paper: Better Facilitating Development by Victoria Cole, June 24, 2015 Adjust font size:

The Chinese government released a white paper on June 8th, entitled "Progress in China's Human Rights in 2014", highlighting the progress of human rights protection in the legal system as well as economic and social development.

“Right to Development”

The white paper had much to say on the topic of the right to development, its first and largest section. Beginning the section with some data and development highlights, the paper mentioned that China's GDP in 2014 increased by 7.4% over 2013 and 13.22 million new urban jobs were created in 2014.

It also said that in 2014, "the first phase of the central line of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project was completed, providing water from the Yangtze River in the south to 60 million people in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in the north. More than 66 million rural people began to have access to safe drinking water..."

Some other reported figures for 2014 included that the minimum wage standards were raised in 19 regions, per capita disposable income rose 8% from the previous year, while per capita consumption expenditure increased 7.5% and that Chinese citizens made 116.59 million trips abroad, with a 19.6% increase in trips made for private purposes.

Relevant to the ever-growing market in China for mobile devices and internet access, the report had this to say, "by the end of 2014 the number of telephone users in China had reached 1.53 billion, among whom that of mobile phone users reached 1.28 billion, with the penetration rate hitting 94.5 per 100 people. The number of 4G users was 97.284 million, and that of 3G users was 480 million. The number of Internet broadband users surpassed 200 million, among whom that of subscribers using broadband over 4M reached 177 million, taking up 88.1 percent of the total."

The report also mentioned the National New-Type Urbanization Plan (2014-2020), issued by the State Council, with a budget of 1.1 billion yuan, that "promote[s] the development of new-type professional farmers..." In 2014, the report says, "more than 400,000 people received occupational training and testing…" Additionally, "the State Council lifted all restrictions on settlement in incorporated towns (towns with a population of at least 2,500) and small cities, established a uniform household registration system in urban and rural areas together with a residence permit system, established and improved a basic public service supply mechanism linked with residence period, and steadily promoted the complete coverage of basic public services for permanent urban residents."

In terms of education, the white paper stressed the government's mission to increase educational fairness, as well as resources for educational purposes. Of the many figures given for 2014 in the paper, the general public services budget of the central government increased its expenditure of education 8.2% and listed allocation figures for pre-school education, free textbooks for compulsory education courses, specific living subsidies, nutrition improvement, and school facility upgrades.

Additionally the paper reports, "…about 110 million rural students in the compulsory education benefited from exemption of all tuition and miscellaneous fees as well as free textbooks, first-grade pupils received dictionaries for free…", and "…vocational education was made free for more than 10 million students, and national grants were provided to nearly 4.88 million senior high school students, 3.15 million secondary vocational school students and 6.6 million college students." Currently, as indicated by the report, "the percentage of students receiving nine-year compulsory education remaining in school and the gross enrollment ratio of senior high schools were 92.6 percent and 86.5 percent, respectively."

In addition to declaring October 17th as "China Poverty Alleviation Day", the government also increased funding for poverty reduction by almost 10% and stated that, "departments of the CPC Central Committee and the central government at various levels, enterprises and public institutions are paired up with and assisting all of the 592 counties that are key targets of the government's development-oriented poverty-reduction work." Work done in 2014 to alleviate poverty was briefly covered in the report; such included various subsidy programs, "…infrastructure projects for public welfare, such as water conservancy projects, road construction, etc..." and compensation and resettling programs.

According to the paper, "by the end of 2014 the impoverished population in rural China had decreased to 70.17 million … This means that there were 12.32 million fewer poverty-stricken people at the end of 2014 than a year earlier."

Considering that the paper reported that, "by the end of 2014 the total number of migrant workers in China was 273.95 million, an increase of 1.9 percent over 2013", this section also detailed protections for the "legitimate rights and interests of migrant workers." It went on to say that, "the central government formulated the Plan to Raise the Vocational Skills of Migrant Workers, which improved social security and employment service at the community level for them, and provided funds to build 269 county-level employment and social security service centers, and 961 town and township service stations" and reported summed specifics related to court cases relevant to labor relationships and laborer protection.

When covering social insurance, the report shared general figures of total numbers of people participating in various forms of insurance systems for the year 2014. Included in these were, "736.27 million people had participated in the new rural cooperative medical care system", "597.74 million people had participated in the basic medical insurance for non-working urban residents", "501.07 million people had participated in the basic pension insurance system for non-working people", "341.24 million people had participated in the basic pension insurance for urban workers", and "170.43 million people participated in the unemployment insurance scheme."

On the topic of medical security, many system improvements were shared. The report said, "the central government has gradually raised the annual government subsidy for the basic medical insurance for rural and non-working urban residents", "serious illness insurance for urban and rural non-working residents is now available throughout the country, and the reimbursement rate for patients with serious illnesses is 10 percentage points higher than that for the basic medical insurance." The report also listed many improvements to the sector’s infrastructure, thanks to "the appropriated 22.4 billion yuan in 2014 to improve the medical health service system", including, "the building of 152 disease prevention and control institutions, 257 maternal and children health-care institutions, 24 other professional public health and disease prevention and control institutions, 360 county-level hospitals, 2,645 town and township hospitals, 53 community health service centers, 44,000 village clinics and 18,000 dormitories in town and township hospitals."

The report also mentioned another 15.4 that was appropriated "for six major public health service projects, including the prevention and control of HIV, tuberculosis and other serious diseases, healthcare for women and children, supervision of food risks, raising public's awareness about health, and personnel training", as well as "9.1 billion yuan into implementing the basic pharmaceuticals system at grassroots medical and health institutions, and village clinics. Another 11.8 billion yuan was allocated to promote reform of state-owned hospitals and standardized training of physicians."

Social assistance has also improved according to the white paper. "China issued the Interim Measures for Social Assistance, and solved the livelihood difficulties of poverty-stricken urban and rural people…" and "by the end of 2014 there were altogether 18.8 million urban recipients and 52.09 million rural recipients of subsistence allowances, and 5.295 million people enjoying the "five guarantees" (food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses)."

With a budget of 78.7 billion yuan for government-subsidized housing projects and 23 billion yuan for the renovation of dilapidated rural houses, the report said, "by the end of 2014 China had solved housing difficulties for more than 40 million urban households" and "and finished renovating the housing of 2.66 million families."

The white paper also wrote on the increased protection on basic cultural rights. "…the state has increased its input in cultural programs, carried out the digital cultural programs, and built libraries, art galleries, cultural centers and similar projects that are open to the public for free." Figures on the specific cultural infrastructural improvements were also listed as "the central budget allocated 14.38 billion yuan for rural public cultural improvements" in 2014.

The report went on to say, the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) "provided 3.385 billion yuan of special lottery funds to build and encouraged local governments to build more than 25,000 children's cultural centers for rural schools" and "China's cultural attractions and scenic spots received a total of 1.4 billion visitors, generating an income of 250 billion yuan and providing employment for more than one million people."