VIII. Social Relief

Proceeding from the situation of national development, the Chinese government has made the greatest efforts to provide the minimum standard of living for the urban and rural poor, to provide relief to natural disaster victims and to urban vagrants and beggars, while promoting and encouraging all kinds of social mutual help activities.

Guarantee of the Minimum Standard of Living for Urban Residents

In 1999, the Chinese government promulgated the “Regulations on Guaranteeing Urban Residents’ Minimum Standard of Living,” which stipulates that urban residents with non-agricultural permanent residence permits whose family’s per capita income is lower than the local urban residents’ minimum standard of living can receive basic subsistence assistance from the local government; those with neither source of income nor working capability, nor legal guardian, supporter or fosterer can receive in full the minimum living allowance according to the minimum living standard of local urban residents. The minimum living standard is decided primarily on the basis of urban residents’ average income and consumption level per capita, the price level of the previous year, the consumption price index, the local cost necessary for maintaining the basic livelihood, other connected social security standards, the materials for the basic needs of food, clothing and housing, and the expenditure on under-age children’s compulsory education. Meanwhile, consideration must also be given to the level of local socio-economic development, the number of people eligible for receiving the minimum living allowance and the local government’s fiscal capacity. Funds for this purpose are included in the fiscal budgets of the local governments. For local governments that have very tight budgets, the Central Government will provide financial support. By the end of 2003, there were 22.47 million urbanites nationwide drawing the minimum living allowance, which was an average of 58 yuan per person per month. A total of 15.6 billion yuan for the minimum living allowance was allocated from government budgets at central and local levels in 2003, which included the 9.2 billion yuan of the Central Government’s subsidies to the disadvantaged central and western regions.

Natural Disaster Relief

The state has set up an emergency system and a social relief system to deal with abrupt natural disasters. Taking people’s lives as the most important thing, the government has made timely efforts to save and evacuate disaster-stricken people, and to lead them to engage in self-relief production and mutual help. In this connection, it has also mobilized all social sectors to render help, so as to minimize as much as possible the casualties and property losses brought about by natural disasters, and to ensure that disaster victims can have adequate food, clothing and lodging, and access to medical treatment. Governments at all levels have enlisted expenditure in their budgets for the storage of disaster-relief materials and for evacuating victims. In 2003, the expenditure for such purposes from governments at various levels reached 5.31 billion yuan, of which 4.05 billion yuan came from the Central Government.

Relief for Urban Vagrants and Beggars

On August 1, 2003, the state promulgated the “Measures for the Administration of Relief for Vagrants and Beggars Without Assured Living Sources in Cities.” Based on the principle of “receiving aid of one’s own free will, and giving help gratis,” relief for vagrants and beggars who have no assured living sources in cities should be administered with compassion, and that relief should be provided in accordance with the different circumstances and needs of the recipients, so that they can receive relief in terms of food, lodging, medicare, communications, transportation to their hometowns and escort. By the end of 2003, some 909 such relief administrative centers had been set up throughout the country, offering help to 210,000 cases of urban vagrants and beggars who had no assured living sources that year.

Social Mutual Help

The state encourages and supports members of society to organize and participate voluntarily in the efforts to give help to the poor and needy, promotes the development of a social donation system, sets up and improves regular social institutions, and a network of offices and storage facilities to receive donations at any time from the general public. By the end of 2003, there were some 28,000 social donation centers in large and medium-sized cities and in some small cities with adequate facilities. From 1996 to 2003, a total of 23 billion yuan in donations was received from the general public (including goods converted into money), together with 960 million pieces of clothing and quilts, which helped an accumulative total of 400 million disaster victims and poverty-stricken people. Governments at the grassroots level also operate community services to provide care and services to the poor and needy. Trade unions at all levels organize “heart-warming activities” every year to offer help to badly-off families. From 1994 to early 2004, a total of 18.11 billion yuan had been raised for this purpose, and 55.778 million sympathy visits had been paid to families of poverty-stricken employees.

China’s trade unions at all levels also organize mutual help and social security activities. By the end of 2003, some 18,000 mutual help and social security organizations had been set up by the nation’s trade unions, with 7.23 million people participating in the social insurance program. Some 1,839 trade union organizations had started such employee mutual help and social security programs which covered 14.85 million participants, and six million cases were given assistance.