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Social Security

Under the planned economy, the Chinese government took care of old-age pension, medical service and other welfare of all civil servants, and staff and workers of enterprises and institutions. If anyone was employed by a state enterprise or institution, one would be taken care of all one's life, although it was a low-level security system. As China is becoming an aging society, the number of retirees is increasing, and some enterprises and institutions have more retirees than people on their pay-roll, resulting in great burdens and troubles to the enterprises and institutions. Since the 1990s, China has actively promoted the reform of the old-age, unemployment and medical insurance systems. The State Council has promulgated the Regulations on Unemployment Insurance, the Interim Regulations on the Collection of Social Insurance Premium, and the Regulations on Guaranteeing Urban Residents' Minimum Standard of Living, providing legal guarantee for the implementation of social security system. Now a social security system integrating old-age, unemployment, medical insurance and minimum standard of living has preliminarily taken shape, which is separated from enterprises and institutions and managed by social forces.

-- Old-age Insurance. The coverage of basic old-age insurance has kept expanding from state- and collective-owned enterprises to enterprises of various types and institutions administered along the lines of an enterprise. The security rights and interests of employees at non-state enterprises are also guaranteed. At the end of 2003, a total of 116.64 million staff members and workers and 38.60 million retirees in China had participated in the basic old-age insurance program.

-- Medical Insurance. The basic medical insurance has covered various kinds of enterprises and institutions, and state organs and social organizations, in cities and towns, as one of the social insurance systems with widest coverage. By the end of 2003, 109.02 million people had participated in basic medical insurance.

-- Unemployment Insurance. With a large population, China is under great unemployment pressure. To alleviate the employment problem, starting from 1993 the Chinese government has carried out the labor market policy, opening various channels for employment. In view of the fact that staff members and workers in state-owned enterprises have been laid off in the past few years during the industrial restructuring, the Chinese government has implemented a re-employment project. In 2003 alone, the government provided a fund of 10 billion yuan to guarantee re-employment, which had helped 4.4 million laid-off people to have jobs. By the end of 2003, a total of 103.73 million people had participated in the unemployment insurance program, and there were 4.15 million people drawing unemployment insurance money.

-- Minimum Standard of Living Guaranteed. A minimum standard of living system has been established in all cities and county towns, providing a basic guarantee for residents whose families' per capita income is below the lowest local standard. In 2003, there were 22.35 million urban residents drawing money for a minimum standard of living, with all the poor people meeting the standard covered by the insurance. In the countryside, the establishment of the system for a minimum standard of living has begun in many areas.

Among those benefiting from the minimum living standard program are many of the some 2.59 million disabled people estimated to live in China. Four hundred and forty thousand disabled people live in welfare homes or homes for the aged, or enjoy the government-sponsored "five guarantees" (of food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses) program, or live at separate homes of residents having regular links with welfare homes or homes for the aged. Some 2.46 million disabled people receive temporary relief or subsidies and 1.03 million are covered by social security programs.

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