SCIO briefing on the work of civil affairs departments on COVID-19 control and livelihood security

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Hu Kaihong:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference held by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council. Today we have invited Mr. Zhan Chengfu, vice minister of civil affairs, who will brief you about the work of civil affairs departments in the struggle to control and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 and to secure people's basic livelihood. Also present today are Mr. Liu Xitang, head of the Department of Social Assistance, Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA); Mr. Chen Yueliang, head of the Department of Primary Level Political Units Development and Community Governance, MCA; and Mr. Yu Jianliang, head of the Department of Elderly Care, MCA. They will also be available to answer your questions. First, I give the floor to Mr. Zhan Chengfu.

Zhan Chengfu:

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media, good morning. Today, my colleagues and I will introduce the efforts of civil affairs departments to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as to secure people's basic livelihood. We will also answer your questions.

As we all know, the majority of elderly people, orphans, as well as children and people with physical disabilities are the most vulnerable segments of our society. They have suffered far more than the rest of the population during the epidemic prevention and control work. Merciless as the virus is, we human beings are sympathetic and caring. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have always taken people's livelihood, especially that of disadvantaged groups, as its top priority. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, General Secretary Xi Jinping has issued important instructions on numerous occasions that institutions dealing with the elderly care, social assistance, children's welfare and mental health should make even greater efforts to prevent and control this virus and provide relevant assistance to those deemed vulnerable. Recently, the leading group of the CPC Central Committee on the prevention and control of the epidemic and the State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism have reviewed and released many important documents concerning civil affairs. Unified deployments have been made in order to further improve the work of epidemic prevention and control in institutions providing the wide range of civil affairs services, fully implement the favorable policies for frontline community workers, and secure the basic livelihood of vulnerable groups in the midst of the epidemic. These fully reflect the care from the CPC Central Committee and the State Council for community workers as well as people in need of civil services, demonstrating the superiority of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Calls have been issued urging the civil affair departments of all levels to spare no effort to live up to the central government's trust and people's expectation.

Since the outbreak, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has undertaken many actions and fully performed its duty, coordinating and promoting epidemic prevention and control work along with civil affairs work. At the civil affairs sector, we implemented the major decisions and arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on epidemic control and economic and social development. Our work can be summarized in the following aspects. 

First, we have strengthened the organization and its leadership, and improved our execution capacity in regard to the decisions and arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. The ministry's leading party members' group set up a leadership team on prevention and control work in addition to seven special teams to make special arrangements and implement the requirements of duty regarding civil affairs service organizations, urban and rural communities, charitable donations, as well as civil affairs authorities. The ministry's leading party members' group and the leadership team on epidemic control have held 13 meetings, in order to learn the key guidance made by General Secretary Xi Jinping and the decisions and arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee, as well as to formulate working guidelines to guide prevention and control work across China.   

Second, we fully supported the prevention and control work in Hubei, and especially in Wuhan. We formulated in a timely way various policy documents on strengthening the supervision of charitable donations, issued notices to charity organizations across the country, and guided charity forces to donate to Wuhan, Hubei and other regions hit hard by the epidemic. We have sent work teams to Wuhan to guide charitable donations as well as civil affairs service institutions there on three occasions. We have also coordinated Jiangsu, Anhui and Hunan provinces to organize three teams totaling 118 people to rush to Wuhan to help with elderly care institutions in the city. We have also guided civil affairs authorities in Wuhan and Hubei to carry out temporary assistance for people stranded there, as well as strengthened support for people in difficulties and special groups. 

Third, we have mobilized personnel and resources from all sectors of society in the epidemic prevention and control work. We have offered guidance to communities in both urban and rural areas to establish or improve dedicated working mechanisms and grid management systems, fully implement joint prevention and control measures, unite the masses in creating a defensive line against the coronavirus, and coordinate society-wide efforts to strengthen care for frontline community workers. Meanwhile, we have encouraged various industrial associations at different levels, charities, social work and voluntary institutions to leverage their respective strengths to participate in the epidemic prevention and control work with systematic steps and in accordance with the law.

Fourth, we have taken solid measures to ensure the protection of staff and residents working or living in civil affairs service institutions. We have issued a series of guidelines to guide institutions of nursing homes, child welfare institutions, mental health welfare centers, relief and management institutions for vagrants and beggars, as well as funeral services, in the epidemic prevention and control work. For institutions offering face-to-face services, such as the registration of social organizations and marriages as well as welfare lottery sales, we have introduced measures including adequate ventilation and disinfection, online appointments, providing services at different time periods and reducing mass gatherings to curb the spread of the virus. We have also strengthened the epidemic prevention and control work at civil affairs offices, thus maintaining the nationwide steady operation of the civil affairs system.

Fifth, we have promoted the resumption of work in the civil affairs system in a prudent and orderly manner. In regions where the epidemic situation is not severe, we have offered guidance for civil affairs service facilities to receive and accommodate the elderly, children and people with disabilities. We have also guided institutions offering face-to-face services there in the resumption of work at an appropriate time using a region-specific and multi-level targeted approach. We have improved our services for disadvantaged groups including childless and "left-behind" elderly, children in difficulties, as well as residents with serious illnesses and disabilities, so that they can receive heartwarming care from the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Generally speaking, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, the civil affairs system has adopted a vigorous and orderly approach to the epidemic prevention and control work, effectively ensuring the safety and health of the groups that we serve, and contributing to the overall progress in nationwide epidemic prevention and control. It is worth noting that local civil affairs officials and community workers, with the big picture in mind, have stuck to their posts with selfless devotion to safeguarding the people's health. Here I would like to call for more media coverage of their touching stories.

However, there is still a lot of room for improvement in our work, and we invite your oversight, comments and valuable advice. Going forward, we will continue to promote the in-depth study of the guiding principles embodied in General Secretary Xi Jinping's important speech on coordinating the epidemic prevention and control work with socio-economic development, and fully implement the three important documents recently issued by the Leading Group of the CPC Central Committee on Novel Coronavirus Prevention and Control, and the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council. We will take a more organized approach to epidemic prevention and control, endeavor to achieve this year's tasks, and make positive contributions to winning the people's war against the epidemic, finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and completing the 13th Five-Year Plan.

That is all for my introduction.

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you, Mr. Zhan. Next, we will move on to questions. Please identify your media outlet before asking your question.

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