A recent survey conducted in 31 major urban areas in China showed the top ten issues of most concern to Chinese city dwellers in 2001 were commodity prices, employment, medical service reforms, care for the elderly, housing, education, public security, the minimum wage, bribery and corruption and environment.
“What were the issues concerned you most in 2001?,” some 13,300 people were asked in the survey conducted by Mei Lande Consultant Company through random calls to institutes or organizations directly under the central government as well as street interviews at the end of the year 2001. Some 30.3 percent named commodity price as their main concern, making it first among the top ten issues.
However, the commodity prices that concern urbanites are no longer those related to common goods but rather to medical service, education and housing. According to many of those surveyed, a bout of flu alone can cost a person over several hundred yuan, and the fee for a child to enter preschool can be several thousand yuan. Living expenses plus tuition for a college student can reach 10,000 yuan (US$1209.66) a year.
In terms of the occupation, the people most concerned about commodity price were retired workers, ordinary workers, self-employed businessmen and housewives -- accounting for 51.9 percent -- who reported commodity prices as their No. 1 concern.
And there is another reason for people’s overwhelming concern for commodity price. Those who want to buy cars, houses and other major purchases with their personal savings are concerned a lot about any change in commodity price. To take advantage of the best time to purchase, these people keep themselves updated on market fluctuations. These people made up some 10 percent to 20 percent of those included in the group that made commodity price their top concern.
While great progress has been made in China’s regulation of its national industrial structure, employment has become a pressing issue. The survey showed that employment ranked second in the top ten issues for urbanites.
Medical service reform was the third most important issue, especially among retired people, office workers, administrators in public institutions, specialists, technicians and government civil servants. The people in these categories made up 68 percent of the total who focussed on medical service reform.
The survey also indicated that the level of concern on commodity price, employment, and medical reform varied according to different regions. The NO. 1 concern among people in China’s north, north-east, east, central, south-west and north-east regions was commodity price with central China ranking first, with 37.2 percent giving commodity price as their top concern.
In the north-east, north, central, south-west and north-west of China where unemployment is higher, employment ranks second on people’s list of important issues. In north China where employment situation is better, employment ranks fourth after issues of concern to the elderly.
(中国网 [China.com.cn] January 22, 2002 by Yang Xiaoping, translated by Feng Shu for China.org.cn)