People received even more tangible benefits. Per capita net income for rural residents rose by 9.5% and per capita disposable income for urban residents by 12.2% in real terms. Upgrading of the consumption structure was accelerated, consumer spending on cars, tourism, telecommunications and fitness continued to increase, and construction of low-rent housing and commercial housing with price ceilings was accelerated. A total of 12.04 million urban residents entered the workforce in 2007, and the year-end rate of registered urban unemployment was 4%. The number of people covered by the social safety net continued to rise, the number of urban residents covered by the basic old-age pension system increased by 13.41 million year on year and old-age pensions for enterprise retirees were raised by a large margin. The trial of providing basic medical insurance for non-working urban residents was launched in 88 cities, with 40.68 million people receiving coverage, and an urban assistance system for medical care was put in place in 2,461 counties (county-level cities and districts). A total of 730 million farmers are now participants in the new system of rural cooperative medical care and the system now covers 86% of the country's counties. The system of basic cost of living allowances has now been set up in all rural areas of China. Marked success was achieved in efforts to reduce rural poverty through development and give people work in place of relief subsidies, and 255,000 poor people were relocated from inhospitable areas as a poverty relief effort. Inspections were carried out to monitor the prices of pork, grain and edible oils as well as education-related charges, medical costs and housing prices, a campaign to make price information and oversight services widely available was conducted and the framework of a price monitoring service network that covers both urban and rural areas was put in place.
Figure 9. Per Capita Net Income of Rural Residents
Figure 10. Per Capita Disposable Income of Urban Residents
Figure 11. Percentage of Counties Covered in the New Rural Cooperative Medical Care System
The achievements of the past year were made on the basis of what we have done for years since the reform and opening policy was first instituted. The past five years was an unusual period in which new horizons were opened in all areas of China's economic and social development. Great strides were made in reform and opening up and in efforts to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, new highs were reached in developing the productive forces, increasing overall national strength and improving people's standards of living, and China's international standing was markedly enhanced. In addition, the pattern of economic development saw gradual improvement, the country's potential for development continued to rise, and development continued to become ever more vigorous, making it one of the best periods for development in the country's history and laying a solid foundation for achieving the third-step strategic goals for economic and social development. In reviewing the past five years, we are fully aware that none of these achievements came easily. They are due to the scientific decision-making and firm leadership of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, to the unity and hard work of all local governments and all departments, and to the unyielding efforts of all the ethnic groups in the country.
While acknowledging our successes, we must also clearly realize that many difficulties and problems remain on our way ahead. Internationally, the impact of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis on the world's major economies is worsening, the US dollar continued to fall in value and prices for primary products such as petroleum, iron ore, copper, and grain remain high in the international market and may go even higher. Furthermore, the current imbalance in the global economy is only getting worse and international competition is getting fiercer, while trade protectionism targeted at China has intensified. Domestically, deep-seated problems such as the poor economic structure, inefficient pattern of development and imperfections in systems and mechanisms have not been fundamentally resolved. In addition, China's capacity for independent innovation is still weak, the price of economic growth in terms of resource consumption and environmental impact is too high and urban and rural development, development among regions and economic and social development remain out of balance.