A total of 67 new laws and regulations, largely aimed at protecting individuals, came into effect on September 1.
The new legislation, including both national and local laws and regulations, covers areas ranging from education and medical services to taxation, drivers' training and occupational safety.
To ease burdens on families with school-age children, the Ministry of Education set a cap on rising tuition fees.
Another provision allows university students to defer payments on their student loans for six years after graduation instead of four. While they are in school, the students need pay no interest on the debt.
Beijing has taken steps to protect the welfare of migrant workers by requiring their employers to provide them with insurance. Migrant workers are now entitled to the same industrial accident and medical insurance coverage as other urban workers.
Another regulation concerning work safety issued by the Beijing municipal government requires employers to report accidents in a timely manner. Failure to comply may result in fines or other penalties.
The capital city's environment will be better protected by the rise in gasoline standards, which are now at the Euro II level.
A new Ministry of Health regulation allows patients to buy prescription drugs in independent pharmacies as well as in hospitals. In the past, people had to purchase medication at hospitals, where prices tend to be higher.
People with credit cards issued by foreign banks can now withdraw foreign currency directly from ATMs.
Businesses as well as individuals will benefit from new regulations. The China Banking Regulatory Commission has reduced required registered capital for accounting firms from 300 million yuan to 100 million yuan. It will also now permit foreign investment companies to establish accounting firms in China.
(Xinhua News Agency September 2, 2004)