IV. Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
In 2004, China began to implement the scientific development concept of putting people first, focusing on promoting the all-round, coordinated development of the urban and rural areas, different regions, as well as economy and society, promoting all people's equal participation in development and share of development results, and continuously enhancing the level of people's enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of laborers' rights. The state has adopted many measures to promote employment and reemployment, including reemployment aid, strengthened control of unemployment and regulation over staff cuts by enterprises. In 2004, there were 9.8 million new employees and 5.1 million reemployed laid-off workers in urban areas in China; the registered unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in urban areas, 0.1 percentage point lower than in the previous year. By the end of 2004, the number of workers laid off from state-owned enterprises shrank to 1.53 million, of whom 920,000 joined reemployment service centers, where they received subsistence allowances, and which paid their social insurance premiums.
The labor security and social insurance systems have been further strengthened. In 2004, the State Council promulgated and implemented the "Rules of Supervision over Labor Security," thus providing a legal basis in this aspect. The "Provisions on Collective Contracts" and the "Provisions on Minimum Wages" were amended and promulgated. A minimum-wage guarantee system has been established in all areas, and most areas have readjusted the minimum-wage standards in a timely and appropriate way. The "Corporate Annuity Trial Measures" and the "Management of Corporate Annuity Funds Trial Measures" were enacted and promulgated to promote the establishment of a multi-level system of old-age insurance. The management of hospitals and pharmacies designated for medical insurance has been further improved. Guidance has been given to employees of organizations of mixed ownership and non-state-owned enterprises to participate in medical insurance, and the catalogues of medicines covered by basic medical insurance and industrial injury insurance have been amended to better cater to the demands of the insured for reasonable use of medicine. Considering the constant flow of migrant workers from rural areas, a special policy has been made and implemented for their participation in industrial injury insurance and the payment of compensation for industrial injuries. A comprehensive study has been launched of the situation of employment and social security of migrant workers from rural areas and farmers whose lands have been requisitioned. Energetic efforts have been made to promote the participation of employees of high-risk enterprises in industrial insurance in light of the high risks they are exposed to.
The coverage of social insurance has been continuously expanded, and various insurance funds and social security funds have continued to increase considerably. In 2004, the central treasury put 146.5 billion yuan into social security, 18.1 percent more than in the previous year. The standards of basic pensions for retirees from enterprises and the minimum living guarantee for urban residents in some areas have been raised. In 2004, basic pensions were duly and fully issued to all retirees from enterprises throughout China, totaling 303.1 billion yuan, with 52.2 billion yuan of subsidies from the central treasury. By the end of 2004, the numbers of people participating in basic pension insurance, unemployment insurance, medical insurance and industrial injury insurance in urban areas had reached 164 million, 106 million, 124 million and 68.45 million, respectively, 8.47 million, 2.11 million, 15.02 million and 22.70 million more than at the end of the previous year respectively. In the rural areas, 55 million people had participated in social old-age pension system. In 2004, 4.19 million people received unemployment insurance benefits, 0.52 million people received compensation under the industrial injury insurance scheme, about 2.20 million farmers received old-age pensions, and 22.01 million urban residents were issued minimum living allowances by the government.
The state has vigorously developed education, science, culture, health care and sports, striving to guarantee citizens' rights to education, culture and living in an all-round way. In 2004, the central treasury earmarked 98.7 billion yuan and invested 14.7 billion yuan in treasury bonds for these purposes. In the same year, the central treasury appropriated various special-purpose funds, totaling over 10 billion yuan, for compulsory education in rural areas, an increase of more than 70 percent from the 5.8 billion yuan of 2003. The central treasury appropriated 6.8 billion yuan for education, including basic universal nine-year compulsory education and basic elimination of illiteracy among young and middle-aged people ("two basic's" for short), as well as construction of public health care facilities in the western regions, 2.7 billion yuan more than in the previous year. As a result, 2.0558 million illiterate people received rudimentary education, 2,364 boarding schools in western rural areas are being built, ramshackle buildings of 8,130 secondary and elementary schools in central and western China were renovated, and 24 million students from impoverished families within the compulsory education period in central and western rural areas received free textbooks. At present, there are more than 70,000 private schools (educational establishments) at all levels and of various kinds, with over 17 million students, and more than 10,000 training institutes. In 2003, the national treasury appropriated 109.4 billion yuan for compulsory education in rural areas, more than twice the 53.3 billion yuan in 1999 and accounting for 80 percent of the total funds for the purpose in the same year.
In 2004, the enrolment of technical college students and undergraduate students throughout the country was 4.473 million, 0.65 million more than in 2003, and the enrolment of graduate students was 0.326 million, 0.057 million more than in 2003. At present, there are over 20 million students in institutions of higher learning in China, and the gross enrolment ratio for higher education has reached 19 percent. Enrolment in secondary vocational education has reached 5.48 million, and there are now 13.68 million students in such schools. There are 5.957 million undergraduate students and technical college students in institutions of higher vocational education, 1 million more than in the previous year.
Cultural undertakings continued to develop and the people's cultural life continued to improve. By November 2004, the national cultural information sharing project had 32 provincial sub-centers, nearly 3,000 grass-roots centers and over 50,000 terminal users. By the end of 2004, the country had 2,599 art troupes, 2,858 cultural centers, 2,710 public libraries, 1,509 museums, 282 radio stations, and 314 TV stations with 60 education channels. There were about 115 million cable TV users, and 30 cities with cable digital TV services for 1.22 million users. The overall population coverage rates of radio and TV broadcasting were 94.1 percent and 95.3 percent, respectively. In 2004, 212 feature films and 44 films on science and education, documentaries and animated cartoons were produced. In the same year, 25.77 billion copies of national and provincial newspapers, 2.69 billion copies of periodicals of various kinds and 6.44 billion copies of books were published. A relatively complete public cultural service system had taken initial shape, and the people's basic cultural rights were protected.
The government has adopted measures to improve the farmers' cultural, scientific and technological qualities, enhance their ability to increase their incomes, and improve their production and living conditions. In 2004, the government arranged 1,692 projects under the Spark Program, in which agricultural produce processing projects accounted for 33.1 percent, projects for the development of advantageous resources and characteristic industries in rural areas accounted for 13.89 percent, and high-efficiency cultivation and breeding projects accounted for 24.7 percent. Over 3.10 million were trained in different skills for rural enterprises, 236 rural enterprises received support to set up state-level centers for technological innovations, and over 1,500 state-level intermediary agencies of all kinds were established to provide science and technology services in rural areas. So far, 143,400 Spark Program demonstration projects have been implemented, involving nearly 90 percent of the counties and cities throughout the country. In recent years, the state has invested 10.3 billion yuan to solve the drinking water problem for over 60 million rural people. In 2004, 1.8 billion yuan was arranged in the form of treasury bonds for investment in projects to make drinking water available to people and domestic animals in rural areas, which helped solve the problem of safe drinking water for 9.58 million people in the countryside. The "2005-2006 Emergency Plan for Drinking Water Projects in Rural Areas" was worked out, which was expected to solve the drinking water problem for 21.20 million rural residents. Meanwhile, 2 billion yuan-worth of treasury bonds was issued for investment in the construction of marsh gas facilities, which would provide marsh gas for 2.07 million rural households. A project for the construction of pastoral steppes and settlement of nomads in Tibet was carried out continuously, which received accumulatively 180 million yuan by 2004 and, when completed in 2006, it would settle 8,000 nomad families totaling 40,000 people. Some 6.4 billion yuan of work-for-food funds was appropriated to construct 1.85 million mu (15 mu equals to 1 ha) of basic farmland, add and improve 9.70 million mu of irrigated areas, build, renovate and extend 40,000 km of highways, and prevent and control soil erosion in an area of 0.155 million sq km.
The government attaches great importance to the protection of the farmers' legitimate rights and interests. In 2004, the government examined compensation for and settlement of farmers whose collectively-owned lands had been requisitioned, and paid defaulted compensation for land requisition totaling 14.77 billion yuan. The government sorted out and annulled discriminative regulations and unreasonable restrictions on farmers seeking employment in urban areas, and continued to improve protection of the legitimate rights and interests of migrant workers from rural areas, requiring that their children should enjoy equal rights to compulsory education with local children, forbidding arbitrary collection of fees from them, improving job services for them, providing them with good consultation services, strengthening their training for employment, further solving their problem of defaulted wages, reinforcing the management of labor contracts as well as procuratorial work and law enforcement concerning labor security, handling promptly labor dispute cases, encouraging trade unions to protect their rights and interests according to law, and providing them with industrial injury insurance. In 2004, the "Provisional Measures for the Management of Payment of Wages to Migrant Construction Workers from Rural Areas" was formulated, which provided for an overall clear-up of defaults on payment of project fees as well as wages of migrant workers from rural areas. By the end of 2004, migrant construction workers from rural areas received wages totaling 33.2 billion yuan defaulted accumulatively over the previous years.
The government protects women's legitimate rights and interests according to law. By the end of 2004, 2,603 coordination teams or joint conferences for the protection of women's and children's rights and interests above the county level had been established, 22 provinces had formulated regulations, opinions or measures against domestic violence, and 3,183 courts or jury panels had been set up for the protection of women's rights. Meanwhile, the All-China Women's Federation had conducted a sample survey in six provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) and 24 counties (cities and prefectures) under their jurisdiction, to learn about the state of women's legal knowledge and needs. It also held its fifth Rights Protection Week, with the theme "Legal System Promotion and Education by Doing Practical Work," combining legal system promotion and education with safeguarding women's rights and interests, which benefited directly over 200,000 counts of people.
Women's equal rights and interests in political, economic and social spheres are being gradually realized along with social development. From the Fourth National People's Congress held in 1975 to the Tenth National People's Congress held in 2003, women deputies accounted for over 20 percent of the total number of deputies. The scale of employment, payment and education level of women are roughly on the same level as those for men. The government actively provides women with reproduction health services and has introduced informed choice in contraception and birth control to protect women's rights to reproduction health, information and choice. In 2004, the government launched "World AIDS Day" activities which featured the theme "Show Concern for Women, Say No to AIDS" to provide face-to-face dissemination and education for 34.83 percent of China's female population. Meanwhile, the government severely punishes such unlawful acts as unnecessary medical tests on the sex of fetuses, artificial abortion because of the sex of a fetus, and drowning or abandoning girl babies. The experimental campaign of "Caring for Girls" was launched in 11 counties in 11 provinces with excessively high male sex ratios in the newly born population, and it was expanded to 24 counties in 24 provinces the same year. Moreover, the governments of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government launched the experimental campaign on their own initiative in 638 places at or above the county level. As a result, all the areas with excessively high male sex ratios among the newly born population are now covered by the campaign, and the rights and interests of women and girls are truly protected.