Housing distribution, which provided lodging to employees by their work units for nearly 40 years, came to a stop five years ago. Today, more and more Chinese people have begun buying their own apartments by obtaining housing loans from banks.
Statistics show that 40 million families have moved into new homes over the past five years, with the per capita floor space in the urban area reaching 21.4 square meters.
At the same time, more and more households with medium and low incomes have moved into homes with larger living space thanks to the efforts of governments at various levels to construct new buildings, affordable houses and houses with low rents, and to replace shabby and endangered houses.
Between 1999 and 2000, the ratio of households with their own houses rose by 10 percentage points to reach 59 percent, while the ratio of households which rented houses dropped sharply to 11.5 percent.
More than two decades ago, it was only a dream for most Chinese households to communicate with each other by telephone. Until five years ago, one had to pay several thousand yuan to install a telephone and spent at least 10,000 yuan (1,209 US dollars) to buy a mobile phone due to limited telecommunications services.
Today, it is quite common for each household to have two fixed telephones.
The information technology industry has grown by an increase rate three times that of the national economy over the past five years, developing into the pillars of the Chinese economy.
At the end of January, the number of China's fixed phone subscribers reached 218 million and the number of mobile phone users in China grew to 212 million, according to statistics from the Ministry of Information Industry.
Five years ago, less than 1 million Chinese people surfed on the Internet, which figure has increased to nearly 60 million at present. In 2002, more than 10 million computers were sold in China.
Other IT products, such as digital cameras, MP3 players, laptops and digital video cameras also sell well in China, especially among the fashionable younger generation.
Traveling is becoming a common lifestyle among ordinary Chinese as their income increases. A total of 877 million Chinese people traveled inside China while 16.6 million traveled overseas last year.
According to predictions by the World Tourism Organization, China is expected to host 130 million international tourists annually by 2020, and there will be 100 million Chinese traveling abroad annually.