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Beijing Upgrades Services for Low-income Residents
Beijing, the capital of China, gives priority in its overall city planning to the quality of life of its low-income residents. According to city civil-affairs departments, for example, the number of residents taking advantage of benefits provided under the minimum standard of living system (a monthly allowance of 325 yuan for basic living expenses) has increased from 3,000 to 80,000.

The municipal government of Beijing also has tried to improve its social security system. It has created more jobs and increased people’s income by stimulating the development of medium-sized and small state-owned enterprises, private businesses and labor-intensive industries. In addition, it explores employment opportunities in the new fields of information, agency services and environmental protection. Moreover, the city has launched community-action projects that employ some 100,000 people in projects like security patrols, cleaning, and gardening. Full-time, seasonal, or short-term employment has been developed. These efforts have kept the unemployment rate in Beijing within 2 percent.

To continue its policies to protect workers who have been laid off at relatively older ages, the city will safeguard the legal interests of bankrupt and relocating enterprises. Neighborhood social security offices are under construction to accelerate the creation of an employment service network covering the city, districts, and neighborhoods.

In response to residents need for affordable but good medical care, Beijing plans to establish a medical insurance system catering to customers of different income levels. The basic medical insurance in urban areas will involve 3.5-4 million people, and enterprises are encouraged to promote medical and health reform by establishing their own supplementary medical insurance programs.

The Beijing municipal government will gradually include all groups with difficult circumstances inside the minimum standard of living system. A social security framework guaranteeing farmers’ minimum living expenses will also be formed in the city in the first quarter of this year, according to sources with the departments of civil affairs.

Along with the ongoing renovation of old and dangerous houses and the construction of new apartments, a great number of other affordable apartments and houses will be provided lower-income people.

(From Xinhua News Agency and translated by Guo Xiaohong for china.org.cn March 1, 2002)

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