According to an article recently published by the China Civil Affairs, it is becoming increasingly urgent for the country to conduct an overall macro-level examination of the social security system. The paper points out several obvious problems with the current system.
Chang Zonghu, the author of the article, noted that logically any system should have a conceptual framework before development. However, Chinaís current social security system has lacked any longer-term considerations since former plans were abandoned. It was proposed at the Third Plenary Session of the 14th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1993 that Chinaís social security system consists of six parts: social insurance, social relief, social welfare, assistance for disabled workers and family members of revolutionary martyrs, mutual social aid and individual accumulated savings. The six-part system has been completely replaced by a social insurance system, a minimum living allowance system for urban residents and a system ensuring basic living expenses for laid-off workers since 1998, causing many obvious problems.
The article listed several problems with the current implementation of Chinaís social security system:
First, some of the concepts and explanations are highly confusing and many elements have no concrete practical measures. For example, definitions of social security, social welfare and social insurance overlap in a number of areas and are frequently lumped together. Housing aid gradually becomes a personís social welfare and the selling of lottery tickets is regarded as a useful way of providing financial compensation.
Second, poor communication and coordination between various departments and various levels of management plagues the whole social security system which lacks unity and coherence. Itís even emerged that the level of importance given to some security systems varied according to the demands of different political classes, the power of departments and the influence of individuals.
Third, the established social security system lacks full institutionalization and constantly adopts emergency measures.
Fourth, the whole system contains structural defects. For example, social security is only for cities while rural areas are beyond its scope of concern.
Fifth, the level of specialization required for social security workers is relatively low.
(china.org.cn by Li Xiao December 11, 2002)