3. Strengthening all aspects of social development, ensuring the wellbeing of the people and improving their lives.
We steadfastly carried out overall planning for economic and social development, accelerated the development and reform of social programs in education, health, culture and sports and worked hard to resolve problems affecting the vital interests of the people.
Education. Public expenditures on education in China reached 2.43 trillion yuan over the five-year period, a 126 percent increase compared to the previous five-year period. Funding for rural compulsory education is now fully provided by the government budget. All the 150 million students receiving compulsory education in rural areas are exempt from paying tuition and miscellaneous fees and are supplied with free textbooks, and living allowances are provided to the 7.8 million students from poor families who stay in school dormitories. The plan to make nine-year compulsory education basically universal and to basically eliminate illiteracy among young and middle-aged adults in the western region was implemented on schedule. The state allocated special funds to support the renovation of dilapidated buildings at more than 22,000 rural primary and secondary schools and the building of more than 7,000 schools with student dormitory facilities. Distance education now covers 360,000 rural primary and middle schools, making quality education available to more rural students. Greater efforts were made to develop vocational education, with the student population reaching 20 million at secondary vocational schools and 8.61 million at vocational colleges in 2007. A total of 11.44 million students were enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs in regular institutions of higher learning. More effort was put into developing key disciplines in institutions of higher learning. A system of government scholarships and financial aid to students in regular undergraduate institutions, vocational colleges and secondary vocational schools was instituted and improved, and its funding from the central government budget was increased from 2.05 billion yuan in 2006 to 9.8 billion yuan in 2007. This enabled over 20 percent of the students in institutions of higher learning and more than 90 percent of the students in secondary vocational schools to benefit from financial aid and allowed schools to greatly raise the amount of aid offered. An experiment to provide free education to education students at normal universities directly under the Ministry of Education was launched in 2007. Major progress was made in providing equitable education opportunities for all.
The strategy of reinvigorating China through development of human resources was extensively applied. Great efforts were made to train Chinese personnel, bring in needed personnel from other countries and make wise use of skilled personnel of all types, thus strengthening the ranks of high-caliber, highly skilled personnel in China.
Health. Total government expenditures on medical and health care in China over the five-year period reached 629.4 billion yuan, a 127 percent increase compared to the previous five-year period. The funding was mainly used to develop the public health service system, the medical service system and the medical security system, and basically complete the formation of the disease prevention and control system and emergency medical response system with a fairly comprehensive range of functions, covering both urban and rural areas. The number of diseases covered by the state plan for immunization and disease prevention was increased from 7 to 15, and AIDS, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis and other major communicable diseases are now treated free of charge. The state allocated funds to renovate or build 18,800 town and township health clinics, 786 county hospitals, 285 county traditional Chinese medicine hospitals and 534 county health centers for women and children, and equip 11,700 town and township health clinics with medical equipment, significantly improving conditions for providing medical and health care services in the countryside. More than 24,000 community health clinics were set up in China, further improving the new system of medical and health care services in urban areas. Further progress was made in carrying out population and family planning programs, and the birthrate remained stable at a low level. People's health continued to improve, infant and maternal mortality rates dropped significantly, and average life expectancy reached 73 years in 2005. These are momentous achievements for China, a developing country with a population of 1.3 billion.
Employment. The government continued to follow and improve the policy that strongly promotes employment and to adopt fiscal, taxation and financial measures to increase employment. Expenditures for employment programs from the central government budget in the form of subsidies totaled 66.6 billion yuan over the five-year period. Urban and rural systems for providing public employment services were further strengthened. Efforts were intensified to increase employment and reemployment in a well-planned way, and training in vocational skills was comprehensively strengthened. As a result, more than ten million urban people got jobs and eight million rural workers found work in nonagricultural sectors per year on average. The problem of finding other employment opportunities for workers laid off from SOEs was basically solved, and the work of incorporating basic cost of living allowances for laid-off workers into the unemployment insurance system was completed. The employment situation remained basically stable despite a large increase in the total workforce and great pressure on employment.
Social safety net. Governments at all levels spent a total of 1.95 trillion yuan on building up the social safety net over the five-year period, a 141 percent increase compared to the previous five-year period. Continued improvement was made in the basic old-age insurance system for urban workers, with the number of participating workers exceeding 200 million in 2007, an increase of more than 54 million compared to 2002. Trials to fully fund personal accounts for basic old-age insurance were expanded to 11 province-level administrative units. Basic pensions for enterprise retirees were raised three years in a row beginning in 2005. A total of 329.5 billion yuan was allocated for old-age insurance programs from the central government budget in the form of subsidies over the last five years. The number of urban workers participating in basic medical insurance reached 180 million in 2007, nearly twice the number in 2002. The trial of basic medical insurance for urban residents was launched in 88 cities. Continued improvement was made in the new system of rural cooperative medical care, which now covers 86 percent of all counties and 730 million rural residents in China. Funds to support the national social safety net totaled 414 billion yuan, an increase of 289.8 billion yuan over 2002. Establishment of the urban and rural emergency aid system was basically completed. The system of basic cost of living allowances for urban residents was improved, with gradually rising standards and allowances. A system of basic cost of living allowances was established in all rural areas of China in 2007, covering 34.519 million rural residents. The systems provide a fundamental institution to assist poor people in urban and rural areas to meet basic living expenses. Further progress was made in developing social welfare, providing special assistance to entitled groups and developing charity programs and programs to help people with physical and mental disabilities. Efforts to combat disasters and provide disaster relief were greatly strengthened, with total expenditures from the central government budget reaching 55.1 billion yuan for the five-year period. This helped restore normal working and living conditions for disaster victims.
Culture and sports. Government expenditures for culture and sports programs totaled 310.4 billion yuan for the five-year period, a 130 percent increase over the previous five-year period. The basic elements of a public cultural services system at the county and township levels were put in place, and basically every county now has a library and cultural center. Substantive progress was made in setting up local cultural facilities such as the projects to set up a national shared databank of cultural information and resources and extend radio and television coverage to all villages. Philosophy, the social sciences, the press and publishing, radio, film and television, literature and art thrived. Protection of cultural relics and intangible cultural heritage was strengthened. Cultural exchanges with other countries were intensified. Development of public sports facilities in urban and rural areas was accelerated, mass sports activities developed vigorously, and Chinese athletes did well in international competitions.
Personal income and consumer spending. Vigorous efforts were made to increase the incomes of urban and rural residents, especially low-income persons. The minimum wage was increased. The problem of arrears in the wages of rural migrant workers in urban areas was basically resolved. The standards for financial aid to key entitled groups were increased four times, and plans were implemented to resolve the practical problems of demobilized military personnel. The tax on interest earnings from individual savings deposits was lowered and the earnings threshold for the individual income tax was raised. There was a general increase in family assets. Upgrading of consumer spending proceeded at a faster pace, and there was a great increase in the number of family-owned cars and rapid spread in the use of cell phones, computers and Internet services. The number of people going on vacations increased several fold. There was further improvement in housing conditions, encouraging progress was made in improving conditions in shantytowns, and much more public services were made available to urban and rural residents.
Public administration. Work in this area was concentrated on protecting the legitimate rights and interests of the people and resolving social tensions. We formulated and implemented policies and measures for protecting the legitimate rights and interests of rural migrant workers in urban areas. We devoted a great deal of effort to resolving infringements on the interests of the public related to land expropriation and requisition, housing demolition, enterprises converting to a stockholding system and environmental protection. Improvement was made in the handling of complaints made by individuals through letters and visits. We paid very close attention to improving workplace safety and the safety oversight system, instituted a responsibility system for workplace safety and improved related legislation. The public security system for crime prevention and control was further strengthened, and overall crime control work was intensified. We combated criminal activities in accordance with the law, effectively protected China's security and maintained law and order.
Taking advantage of the rapid development of the economy and significant improvement of public finance, we worked hard to resolve some longstanding problems. We sold off nonperforming assets of state-owned commercial banks, made alternate arrangements for nonperforming loans and long-term non-paying accounts of rural credit cooperatives, eased the long-term debts of SOEs, gradually eased policy-related losses of state-owned grain enterprises, cleared up overdue tax rebates for exports, and improved the policy for paying compensation for requisition of land for large and medium-sized reservoirs and assisting people displaced by reservoir projects. Resolution of these problems played an important role in promoting economic and social development.
We made major progress over the past five years in enhancing democracy and the legal system, building national defense and the military, doing our work related to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and conducting diplomacy.
We made steady progress in improving socialist democracy and the socialist legal system. Governments at all levels conscientiously accepted the oversight of the people's congress and its standing committee at the corresponding level; voluntarily accepted the democratic oversight by CPPCC committees; carefully listened to the views of the democratic parties, federations of industry and commerce, persons without party affiliation and people's organizations; solicited suggestions of experts, scholars and the general public in a variety of forms; and accepted the oversight of the media and all sectors of society. Governments at all levels made public announcements and held public hearings before making major decisions. We stepped up efforts to develop autonomy in urban community and village administrative bodies and further improved the democratic system at the local level. During the past five years the State Council submitted 39 bills to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and formulated or revised 137 administrative regulations. We explored ways to set up mechanisms and systems for orderly public participation in government legislation and published 15 draft laws and drafts of administrative regulations to solicit comments from the public. We carried out a thorough review of current administrative rules and regulations. We adhered to the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy and carried forward the programs to promote unity and progress among ethnic groups. The policy on freedom of religious belief was comprehensively implemented, and the administration of religious affairs was put on a more solid legal footing and further standardized. We comprehensively implemented the policy on matters related to overseas Chinese nationals and protected the legitimate rights and interests of overseas Chinese nationals, returned overseas Chinese nationals and their relatives.
We stepped up all efforts to modernize the military. We vigorously pressed ahead with the revolution in military affairs with Chinese characteristics. We adjusted and reformed the military's structure and staffing and its related policies and systems and smoothly cut its size by 200,000 personnel. We made historic achievements in strengthening national defense and the military. The People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police Force made major contributions to safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and to promoting social harmony and stability.
We adhered to the principle of "one country, two systems" and acted in strict accordance with the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region. We implemented the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between the mainland and the regions of Hong Kong and Macao. Both regions remained thriving and stable.
We resolutely opposed and foiled secessionist activities aimed at Taiwan independence, thereby protecting China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and safeguarding peace in the Taiwan Straits. We carried out a number of measures to make it easier for people to visit between the two sides and for economic, scientific, educational, cultural and sports exchanges to take place in order to promote the peaceful and steady development of cross-Straits relations.
We actively promoted exchange and cooperation with other countries, made major progress in conducting diplomacy on all fronts, and resolutely safeguarded and developed China's interests. China stepped up dialogue with the major countries and increased trust and expanded cooperation with them. China-US relations developed steadily, the China-Russia partnership of strategic coordination reached a new height, China-Europe cooperation in all areas went from strength to strength, and China-Japan relations improved. Good-neighborly relations with surrounding countries were further strengthened, further achievements were made in regional cooperation, and China's solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries entered a new stage. We successfully carried out a series of major multilateral diplomatic activities. We appropriately responded to new challenges in the international arena, actively and responsibly participated in efforts to resolve global issues, and played an important and constructive role in the resolution of issues concerning international and regional hotspots.
We paid close attention to self-reform and self-improvement of the government during the five-year period. This government took scientific and democratic policy-making, law-based administration and better administrative oversight as the three basic principles for its work. We formulated the Program for Advancing All Aspects of Government Administration in Accordance with the Law and promoted change in the way the government functions and innovations in management, thereby improving public administration and public services. We diligently carried out the Administrative Permit Law and promoted reform of the system of administrative examination and approval. As a result, departments of the State Council eliminated or streamlined a total of 692 items requiring examination and approval. We promoted greater openness in government affairs, improved the system for releasing information, and increased the application of e-government. Establishment of a national emergency response management system was basically completed. Oversight work such as supervision and auditing was quite effective. Further improvement was made in education and training of civil servants and in developing a legislative framework for civil-service administration. We worked unceasingly to combat corruption and improve the conduct of the government, made good progress in combating bribery in business, uncovered a number of violations of laws and regulations and cases of neglect and dereliction of duty, and punished corrupt persons.