China issues white paper on social security
China on Tuesday publishes its first ever white paper on social security, detailing the current conditions of the country's social security and the policy the government adopted in the regard.
"After years of experiments and practice, a social security framework with Chinese characteristics has taken initial shape," said the white paper titled China's Social Security and Its Policy,which was issued by the Information Office of the State Council.
Since China established and improved its socialist market economy system in the mid-1980s, a series of reforms have been introduced to change the old social security system practiced under the planned economy, and a basic framework of a social security system has been set up in China corresponding to the market economy system, with the central and local governments sharing specific responsibilities, the white paper noted.
China's social security system includes social insurance, social welfare, the special care and placement system, social relief and housing services. As the core of the social security system, social insurance includes old-age insurance, unemployment insurance, medical insurance, work-related injury insurance and maternity insurance.
China is now an aging society. As the aging of the population quickens, the number of elderly people is becoming very large. This trend will reach its peak in the 2030s, said the white paper.
To guarantee the basic living standards of the elderly and safeguard their legitimate rights and interests, the Chinese government has continuously improved the old-age insurance system and reformed the fund-raising mode in an attempt to establish a multi-level old-age insurance system marked by sustainable development.
In 2003, the monthly basic pension for enterprise retirees covered by the basic old-age insurance scheme was 621 yuan ( about75 US dollars) on average, according to the white paper.
And in the same year, the number of people participating in thebasic old-age insurance scheme across China reached 155.06 million,116.46 million of whom were employees.
Also in 2003, the basic old-age insurance premium paid by enterprises nationwide totaled 259.5 billion yuan (31.3 billion dollars).
While promoting the reform of the enterprise employment system and setting up a market-oriented employment mechanism, the Chinesegovernment is speeding up the development and improvement of an unemployment insurance system to guarantee the basic livelihood ofemployees after they lose their jobs, to help them find new jobs, and accelerate the combination of the basic livelihood guarantee system for people laid off from state-owned enterprises with the unemployment insurance, the white paper said.
By the end of 2003, there were 103.73 million people who participated in the unemployment insurance scheme, which provided unemployment insurance benefits of varying time limits to 7.42 million laid-off employees throughout the year, according to the white paper.
Since 1998, China has also promoted a national reform of the basic medical insurance system for urban employees, said the whitepaper.
By the end of 2003, some 109.02 million people around China hadparticipated in the basic medical insurance program, including 79.75 million employees and 29.27 million retirees.
"To press ahead with the improvement of the social security system is an important task for the Chinese government in its efforts to build a moderately prosperous society in a comprehensive way," said the white paper.
But it admitted that establishing a sound social security system in China is an extremely arduous task.
The white paper pointed out the fact that China is the biggest developing country with a large population in the world, and its economic base is weak and the development between regions and between town and country is unbalanced.
"The Chinese government regards economic development as the basic prerequisite for improving people's livelihood and effectingsocial security," said the white paper.
The white paper is divided into 12 parts, including old-age insurance, unemployment insurance, medical insurance and social security in rural areas.