IV. The Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights of Citizens


In 2000, the Chinese government made new efforts and achieved new progress in the protection of workers' economic, social and cultural rights.

The government promulgated and implemented the Regulations on the Administration of the Labor Market in accordance with the Labor Law in 2000, providing a guarantee for workers' right to employment from the angle of standardizing the labor market. According to statistics, by the end of 2000, employees in China totaled more than 710 million, an increase of 5.64 million over the figure for the previous year, including over 210 million employees in cities and towns, an increase of 2.6 million. Last year, 3.61 million workers laid off by state-owned enterprises found new jobs through various channels. The registered urban unemployment rate was 3.1 percent by the end of 2000. To better solve the employment of rural labor, the Chinese government has carried out a three-year program for the overall planning of urban and rural employment since 2000, retraining rural workers, promoting the development and employment of the rural labor force in the western region, and encouraging and supporting migrant laborers to return to their home villages to start businesses.

China has worked hard to develop job training with a view to enhancing workers' job skills and quality and improving their capabilities of finding employment and adapting to job changes. In 2000, the Chinese government formulated the Regulations on Employing Skilled Workers and the Procedures for Implementation of the Training of Labor Reserves. According to statistics, there were 4,098 secondary technical training schools nationwide with an enrollment of over 1.5 million in 2000; more than 3,000 training centers, with an annual admission to 4.08 million; and 16,000 training centers run by social sectors, with an annual admission to 3.6 million. A total of 4.5 million jobless persons and laid- off workers received new skill training, 300,000 people received guidance for and training in starting businesses, and 750,000 junior and senior middle school graduates in urban areas who failed to continue further studies received training under the " training of labor reserves" program. In 2000, 4.25 million students were admitted to various secondary vocational and technical schools, bringing the enrollment of such schools to the grand total of 12.95 million; and 96.42 million people received training at the adult technical training schools. To date, approximately 30 million people have obtained professional credentials in China.

The state guarantees the workers' right to obtain payment for labor, and their wages have been on the increase. In 2000, the government formulated the Guidelines on Further Deepening the Reform of the Internal Distribution System of Enterprises and the Trial Measures on Settling Wages Through Collective Negotiations, to strengthen the guidance for the wage-related work of enterprises. In 1999, the wages of workers in cities and towns totaled 987.55 billion yuan, an increase of 6.2 percent over the figure for the previous year; and their per capita wage was 8,346 yuan, an increase of 11.6 percent over the previous year, and a 13. 1 percent growth in real terms, allowing for price fluctuations. By the end of 2000, all the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, except Tibet, had established and improved a minimum-wage guarantee system, readjusted and issued the standards for minimum wages in their own areas.

To safeguard the social security rights of workers, China has preliminarily established a social insurance system, mainly covering basic pension insurance, basic medical insurance and unemployment insurance for workers in cities and towns. It had enhanced the level of the basic livelihood guarantee of workers laid off by state-owned enterprises, the level of unemployment insurance, and the level of ensuring a minimum standard of living for urban residents. By the end of 2000, the system for ensuring a minimum standard of living for urban residents had been established in all cities and towns where the people's governments at the county level are located, benefiting 3.818 million urban residents; 15 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities had established such a system for rural residents, benefiting three million villagers with a total of 730 million yuan. In 2000, the cost of social insurance increased substantially in the state financial expenditure, and the social security costs, such as old- age pension, unemployment insurance, the basic livelihood guarantee for laid-off workers, and the minimum-standard-of-living guarantee for urban residents arranged by the central budget reached 47.8 billion yuan, an increase of 86 percent over 1999. By the end of 2000, a total of 104.08 million workers in China had participated in the unemployment insurance program, with a monthly average of 1.88 million receiving unemployment insurance; 104.47 million workers and 31.7 million retirees had participated in the basic pension insurance program; 43 million workers had participated in the basic medical insurance program; over 2,000 counties and cities had established the system of insurance against injuries at work, covering 42 million workers; 27 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities had tried out childbirth insurance, and 1,412 counties and cities introduced the childbirth insurance mutual assistance program, in which approximately 30 million workers participated.

China has increased its investment in education to create favorable conditions for citizens to exercise their right to receive education. During the Ninth Five-Year Plan period, the education fund increased at a rate of 15.56 percent annually on average, which was higher than the growth speed of the national economy. The proportion of the national financial education fund in the GDP increased continuously, rising from 2.41 percent in 1995 to 2.79 percent in 1999. The nation's total education fund in 1999 was 1.8 times that of 1995. The central and local governments raised an 11.6-billion-yuan special education fund for 852 poverty- stricken counties following the introduction of the "project for compulsory education in poverty-stricken areas." The state formulated the Regulations on the Administration of State Loans for Students (for trial implementation) and the Regulations on the Operation of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China State Loans for Students (for trial implementation), so as to comprehensively institute the student loan system to guarantee students with financial difficulties the right to receive education. By the end of 2000, China had virtually made nine-year compulsory education universal, covering 85 percent of the population, and basically wiped out illiteracy among the young and adults, reducing the rate of young and adult illiterates to less than five percent. Statistics show that there were 22.44 million children in kindergartens in China in 2000; over 130 million pupils in primary schools, the attendance rate of school-age children reaching 99.1 percent; 62.56 million students in junior middle schools, the gross attendance rate reaching 88.6 percent; 12.01 million students in 14,600 senior middle schools; 5.56 million students in 1,041 institutions of higher learning; 3.54 million students in 772 adult institutions of higher learning; 301, 000 students in 738 institutions for training postgraduates; and 378,000 students in special education schools.

Cultural undertakings have developed rapidly, and the people's cultural life has become increasingly rich and colorful. By the end of 2000, China had 2,622 performing art troupes; 2,911 cultural centers; 2,769 public libraries; 1,373 museums; 3,816 archive establishments; national and provincial newspapers with a circulation of 20.3 billion copies, magazines with a circulation of 2.85 billion copies, and books with a circulation of 6.35 billion copies; 732 medium- and short-wave broadcasting transmitting and relay stations, covering 92.1 percent of the population; and 1,313 TV transmitting and relay stations each with more than 1,000 watts, covering 93.4 percent of the population. China has 79.2 million users of cable television, ranking first in the world.

Telecommunications have advanced by leaps and bounds. The second-biggest three-dimensional communications network in the world linking the whole country and the rest of the world has been established, and the number of telephone subscribers ranks second in the world. By the end of 2000, there were 230 million telephone subscribers nationwide, including 85.26 million subscribers of mobile phones, second only to the United States; for every 100 urban residents there are 39 telephones on average, and telephone service covers 80 percent of the administrative villages. Digital and multi-media communications networks now cover all prefectures and cities, and some counties. Automatic roaming through the networks of the China Mobile Communications Corporation and the China Unicom reaches 84 countries and regions. The users of the Internet have risen from 10,000 in 1994, when China joined the Internet network, to well over 22.5 million. There are more than 27,300 websites in China at present.