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Shanghai Government Takes Lead in Poverty Aid

At the beginning of 2000, Shanghai initiated a plan aimed at adding 100,000 more jobs annually in the three successive years with labor and welfare departments mobilizing all available forces to help people find jobs. Conforming to the trends of market reform in the job market, Shanghai turned to local governments, society at large, the market and individual enterprises. Job center staff members went out into the communities where people needed help to make arrangements for individuals according to individual needs.

By the beginning of 2001, the Shanghai municipal government had helped nearly 50,000 people find employment and also had taken the lead in China in giving priority to employment policies for women over 40 and men over 50 from lower-income areas.

Shanghai residents coming from families in difficult circumstances also had to worry less about being able to afford legal assistance. Twenty legal aid centers with more than 100 professional workers are now available to help those in poverty with their most pressing legal needs. With the availability of legal aid listed as top ten specific practical projects of the Shanghai municipal government in 2000, today more than 4,300 lawyers are providing free legal advice and services to those in need.

Since the 1990s, Shanghai has taken the lead in introducing three basic guarantees: A basic standard-of-living for urban residents, basic minimum-wage for workers and basic unemployment compensation for laid-off employees along with a guarantee of salaries being raised gradually in accordance with living standards. Meanwhile, the government adjusts and improves policies as needed on social poverty-relief and support on an on-going basis.

The basic living standard for an urban resident and a lower-income family is 280 yuan a month. Basic-living expenses for employees’ families once paid by enterprises are now borne by the government. Over the past eight year, basic living expenses have increased by 17 percent annually for urban residents, and by 23 percent for rural residents.

Guided by the municipal government, social organizations -- including the Shanghai Charity Foundation and the Shanghai Poverty-Relief Foundation -- have raised 55 million yuan to render assistance within their means to help the poor. Shanghai has established more than 100 various types of foundations and more than 260 poverty-relief centers, with funds exceeding 100 million yuan. More than 300,000 poverty-stricken families have been helped and more than one million people now benefit from the assistance funds.

The Shanghai Trade Union has developed a computer-controlled management system for 100,000 families living below the poverty line. Besides, the municipal government provides three special medical-care supports for resident workers suffering from serious illness, and for both workers and retirees who are hospitalized.

(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2001, translated by Li Jingrong and polished by Sara Grimes for china.org.cn)

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