On Wednesday it was announced by the Chinese government that a social security system covering more than 1 billion people would be introduced by 2020.
Listed as one of the goals for building a harmonious socialist society the plan was included in a statement issued at the end of the four-day Sixth Plenum of the 16th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Wednesday.
The plenary session, attended by 195 CPC Central Committee members and 152 alternate members, is the first the Party has held focusing on social development issues.
Minister of Labor and Social Security Tian Chengping said earlier that at the end of 2005 more than 558 million people, or 43 percent of the country's total population, had been covered by basic pension, unemployment, work injury, maternity and medical insurance.
He said China accumulated 606.6 billion yuan (US$75.8 billion) in social insurance funds in 2005 and the national social security fund has added more than 200 billion yuan. However, the growth of social security funds lagged behind demand and China faced difficulties in further improving the system to meet the new challenges it was facing, added the minister.
The rapid and healthy growth of China's economy and social development and the increasing public awareness of social security issues required China to further improve the system, said the minister.
(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2006)