I. The Improvement of the People's Rights to
Subsistence and Development


The Chinese government continued to put the safeguarding and promotion of the people's rights to subsistence and development on the top of its agenda, and spared no effort to develop the economy, enhance the comprehensive national strength and improve the people 's access to subsistence and development. In 2000, China rid itself completely of the influence of the Asian financial crisis, the national economy began to reverse the sliding trend, the growth rate obviously went up, and the GDP reached 8,940.4 billion yuan, breaking through the US$1,000 billion mark for the first time, marking an increase of 8.0 percent over the figure for the previous year. At the same time, the GDP per capita exceeded US$ 800, overfulfilling the task of quadrupling 1980's GNP per capita, and successfully realizing the second-step strategic objectives of the modernization drive. In 2000, China's overall import and export volume reached US$474.3 billion-worth, or an increase of 31. 5 percent over that of the previous year. At the end of 2000, the state foreign exchange reserve reached US$165.6 billion, or an increase of US$10.9 billion over that at the beginning of 2000. To date, China's GDP has increased from the 11th in world ranking in the 1970s to the seventh. In the 1970s, the total import and export volume and foreign exchange reserve ranked 32nd and 39th, respectively, in the world, but now they rank eighth and second, respectively. China ranks first in the world in the output of major industrial and agricultural products, such as iron and steel, coal, cement, chemical fertilizer, TV sets, grain, cotton, meat and aquatic products. With sufficient commodities, China's effective supply ability has been greatly improved.

The income of urban and rural residents has gone up steadily, and their standard of living has continued to improve. The Chinese people nationwide have jumped from the stage of having enough to eat and wear to that of living a better-off life. In 2000, the disposable income per urban resident came to 6,280 yuan, or an increase of 6.4 percent over that of the previous year, in real terms; the net income per rural resident reached 2,253 yuan, or a growth of 2.1 percent over that of the previous year, in real terms. During the Ninth Five-Year Plan period (1996-2000), savings deposits of urban and rural residents more than doubled, and by 2000 had topped 6,400 billion yuan, or an increase of more than five times compared to what it had been eight years previously. The consumption level has been constantly improved, and the average annual growth rate of the volume of total retail sales of consumer goods during the Ninth Five-Year Plan period reached 10.6 percent.

The structure of consumption has been optimized: The proportion of the expenditure for clothes, food and daily necessities has decreased by a large margin, and the proportion of the expenditure for housing, communications and telecommunications, medical and health care, culture, education and recreation has gone up rapidly. In 1999, the consumption expenditure of urban and rural residents, excluding that for clothing, food, housing and daily necessities, made up 29.3 percent and 21.6 percent of their total consumption expenditure, respectively, or an increase of 8.2 percentage points and 6.2 percentage points, respectively, over the figures for 1995. In 2000, the Engel's coefficient of urban residents (the proportion of food expenditure in the total consumption expenditure) was about 40 percent, or a drop of close to 10 percentage points from that in 1995, and a decrease of 18 percentage points from that in 1978. Meanwhile, the Engel's coefficient of rural residents was about 50 percent, or a decrease of about 8 percentage points from that of 1995, and approximately 19 percentage points lower than that of 1954. As for food consumption, grain consumption has decreased, and that of aquatic products, meat, domestic fowls, eggs, milk and other foodstuffs related to domestic animals has increased substantially. At present, for every 100 urban households there are 116.6 color TV sets, 90.5 washing machines, 86.7 refrigerators, and 30.8 air- conditioners -- close to the level of developed countries. For every 100 rural households there are 38.24 color TV sets, 24.32 washing machines and 10.64 refrigerators, increases of 21.32, 7.42 and 5.49, respectively, over the figures for 1995. Not so long ago, almost no Chinese family owned a household computer, video camera, microwave oven or VCD player. In 1999, however, for every 100 urban households there were 5.91 household computers, 1.06 video cameras, 12 microwave ovens and 25 VCD players.

Housing conditions have been continuously improved. The living space per urban resident increased from 8.1 sq m in 1995 to 9.8 sq m in 1999; and the living space per rural resident grew from 21 sq m to 24.2 sq m. In 2000, 510 million sq m of floor space of urban residential buildings were completed; and the construction of rural residential buildings totaling a floor space of 850 million sq m was completed. Hence, housing conditions have been further improved.

While improving the people's living standards across the board, the Chinese government has attached great importance to ensuring that poverty-stricken people have enough to eat and wear. Since the initiation of reform and opening-up in 1979, China has engaged in a large-scale, development-oriented aid-the-poor drive nationwide in a planned and organized way. By the end of 2000, the incidence rate of poverty in rural areas had dropped from 30.7 percent in 1978 to about 3 percent. The net income per farmer in the 592 poverty-stricken counties at the top of the state aid-the- poor agenda, increased from 648 yuan in 1994 to 1,348 yuan in 2000. More than 97 percent of the townships in the poverty-stricken areas nationwide are now accessible by bus and have electricity; and 98 percent of such townships have small hospitals. The problem of ensuring that the poverty-stricken people have enough to eat and wear has basically been solved, and their quality of life has been greatly improved, forming a striking contrast with the situation worldwide in which the absolutely poverty-stricken population keeps increasing. The UN Development Program holds that China's achievements in the development-oriented aid-the-poor work have provided a model for the developing countries, and even for the whole world.
Medical care and the physique of the people have constantly improved. At the end of 2000, China had 325,000 medical centers (including clinics), 3.18 million hospital beds and 4.49 million medical personnel. Some 89.8 percent of villages had medical centers, with 1.32 million rural doctors and other medical personnel. Meanwhile, physical culture has developed vigorously, a nationwide health-building drive has been launched, and the physique of the Chinese people throughout the country has improved greatly. In the past three years, the State Administration of Sport and all the provinces, autonomous regions and centrally administered municipalities have invested in the construction of nearly 10,000 special health-building outlets. In addition, China has constructed a total of 1,939 health-building projects for the whole people. All these have provided favorable conditions for the launching of the health-building drive across the country. In 2000, the Chinese government set up a people's physique monitoring system, planning to include the people's physique monitoring targets in the state's comprehensive social development appraisal targets. China has mounted the stage of world sport in all its sectors and joined the front ranks of sports internationally. At the 27th Olympic Games, held in 2000, Chinese athletes won 28 gold medals, 16 silver medals and 15 bronze medals, ranking China third in the world at the Sydney Olympics. In domestic and international games in 2000, Chinese athletes won 110 world championships, and 14 athletes and two teams chalked up a total of 22 world records on 30 occasions.

The drastic improvement of the people's living standards has greatly raised the level of the people's health. The death rate of the Chinese population decreased from 33 per thousand before 1949 to 6.46 per thousand in 1999. The people's life-expectancy on average was raised from 35 years before 1949 to 71.8 years in 2000, or 10 years longer than that of the developing countries and reaching the level of the moderately-developed countries.