VI. Social Welfare

The Chinese government actively promotes the development of social welfare, raising funds through various channels to provide social welfare benefits for the elderly, orphans and the disabled.

Social Welfare for the Elderly

In accordance with the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Elderly People’s Rights and Interests,” the state and the society have adopted measures to improve conditions for such people’s livelihood, health and participation in social development. Governments at all levels include services for elderly people in their socio-economic development plans, gradually increase investments in services for elderly people, and encourage investment from all sectors of society, so as to enable such services to grow in coordination with socio-economic development. In recent years, thanks to the promotion of the socialization of social welfare undertakings, a social service system for elderly people has gradually taken shape, with state- and collective-run social welfare organizations for elderly people as the backbone, those sponsored by various social sectors as a new growth point, community welfare services for elderly people as support, and services for elderly people living at home as the basis. Today, there are 38,000 social welfare organizations of various kinds for elderly people, with 1.129 million beds, or 8.4 beds for every 1,000 people over the age of 60. In 2001, the state introduced the “Starlight Plan – National Community Welfare Service for Elderly People.” By June 2004, a total of 32,000 Starlight Homes for Elderly People had been built or rebuilt in urban and rural areas all over China, with a total investment of 13.49 billion yuan.

Social Welfare for Children

According to relevant laws and regulations, such as the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Minors” and the “Education Law of the People’s Republic of China,” the state provides comprehensive welfare for children, including education and planned immunization, and takes special care to ensure the livelihood, recovery and education of children with special difficulties, such as disabled children, orphans and abandoned babies, by providing welfare projects, facilities and services. Today, China has 192 special welfare institutions for children and 600 comprehensive welfare institutions with a children’s department, accommodating a total of 54,000 orphans and disabled children. There are also nearly 10,000 community services around China for orphans and disabled people, such as rehabilitation centers and training classes for mentally retarded children.

The Chinese government has decided that, starting from 2004, it is going to carry out the “Tomorrow Plan – Operations and Rehabilitation for Disabled Orphans.” The plan will cover a three-year period and involve 600 million yuan in fund. Under the plan, each year 10,000 disabled orphans will receive operations and rehabilitation services. The aim is that by 2006 all the disabled orphans with surgical operation indications in all the social welfare institutions around China will have received effective operations and rehabilitation services.

Social Welfare for Disabled People

The “Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled People” promulgated by the state provides legal guarantees for disabled people’s rehabilitation, education, employment, cultural life and social welfare. The government helps disabled people to get employment by running welfare enterprises, providing employment opportunities in a certain proportion, and supporting the self-employment of disabled people. Special care for disabled people is provided through such welfare measures as temporary aid, concentrated support and the running of accommodation institutions for disabled people. By the end of 2003, a total of over 4.03 million disabled people in urban areas around China were in employment, and 16.85 million disabled people in rural areas were engaged in productive labor; 2.59 million impoverished disabled people enjoyed guarantees for their livelihood; 442,000 disabled people enjoyed concentrated support and the “five guarantees” (of food, clothing, medicare, housing and burial expenses) in various welfare institutions and homes for the aged; 2.46 million disabled people were receiving temporary aid, regular allowances and special allowances; and over 7.01 million impoverished disabled people were receiving assistance to solve their problem of basic food and clothing. In 2003, governments at all levels earmarked 1.5 billion yuan for services for the disabled, and raised nearly 100 million yuan for social welfare funds.