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Social Security System Stressed

Vice-Premier Huang Ju Sunday said a sound social security system is vital for China's development in the next 20 years.

"After years of experiments and practice, a social security framework with Chinese characteristics has taken initial shape," Huang told the 28th General Assembly of the International Social Security Association, which opened Sunday.

China's social security system should be further developed by learning from international experience, especially from industrialized economies.

A series of reforms have been introduced to change the old social security system practiced under the planned economy, and the basic framework of a social security system has been set up in China since the nation launched its reform and opening drive in the late 1970s.

China's social security system includes social insurance, social welfare, the special care and placement system, social relief and housing services.

As the core of the social security system, social insurance includes old-age insurance, unemployment insurance, medical insurance, work-related injury insurance and maternity insurance.

China has already made some progress in this work.

The number of people participating in the basic old-age insurance scheme across China reached 155.06 million last year, 116.46 million of whom were employees. By the end of 2003, 103.73 million people participated in the unemployment insurance scheme.

Since 1998, China has also promoted a national reform of the basic medical insurance system for urban employees.

By the end of 2003, some 109.02 million people around China had participated in the basic medical insurance program, including 79.75 million employees and 29.27 million retirees.

"To press ahead with the improvement of the social security system is an important task for the Chinese Government in its efforts to build a moderately prosperous society in a comprehensive way," said Huang.

But he admitted that establishing a sound social security system in China is an extremely arduous task.

He pointed out the fact that China is the biggest developing country with the largest population in the world, and its economic base is weak and the development between regions and between rural and urban areas is unbalanced.

"The Chinese Government regards economic development as the basic prerequisite for improving people's livelihood and effecting social security," said Huang.

In a separate development, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security released two reports on the shortage of skilled workers and labourers in economically developed regions.

The reports said that shortages are still seen in many industries across China, especially in major economic powerhouses like the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta regions.

The eastern Shanghai Municipality will suffer a shortage of 18,000 technicians in the next three years in the fields of craft design, machine tool operations, electrical equipment operations and optical optimization controls and electronics.

Even in northeast China, the country's old industrial base and once a cradle for skilled workers, a shortage of technicians is severely hindering the region's revitalization process.

(China Daily September 13, 2004)

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