I. People's Right to Existence and
Development

China is a developing country with a population of 1.2 billion and relatively poor per-capita resources. It suffered foreign invasion, exploitation and oppression for a long time. The right to exist and develop thus historically became the urgent demand of the Chinese people. Since 1991, by firmly upholding economic construction as the central task, the Chinese government has pursued the basic policy of continually improving the people's right to existence and development on the basis of economic development. Its achievements in this respect have attracted worldwide attention.

From 1991 to 1994 China's economy increased at an average annual rate of 12.2 percent, much higher than the world's average annual rate of 1.9 percent. The sustained, quick and healthy growth of China's economy has raised the level of China's overall social development and conspicuously improved the right to existence and development of the Chinese people.

The incomes of both rural and urban residents have increased steadily. The per-capita income for living expenses of urban households increased to 3,179 yuan in 1994 from 1,387 yuan in 1990; after deducting the price-rise factor the actual increase was 38.3 percent, an average annual increase rate of 8.4 percent. The per-capita income for living expenses of rural households increased to 1,221 yuan from 686, and after deducting the price-rise factor the actual increase was 18.2 percent, an average annual increase rate of 4.3 percent. The balance of deposits of rural and urban residents increased to 2,151.9 billion yuan at the end of 1994 from 703.4 billion yuan at the end of 1990, a more than three-fold increase in four years.

China's urban residents are close to living a comfortable life according to their level of consumption. The proportion of food expenses in consumption outlay (the Engel coefficient) dropped to 50.0 percent in 1994 from 54.2 percent in 1990. The proportion of meat, poultry, eggs and milk increased greatly in the food structure. The purchase of durable goods by urban residents showed an obvious increase--86 color TV sets per 100 households (an increase of 27 sets over 1990), 30 black-and-white TV sets per 100 households (22 sets less than 1990), and 62 refrigerators per 100 households (an increase of 20 refrigerators over 1990). The per-capita living area reached 7.8 square meters in urban households and 61.7 percent of the households were using gas. Clothes bought by each person in 1994 increased 2.6 times on the average over 1990.

The majority of rural residents have enough food and clothing and their consumption patterns have tended to optimize. Food expenses dropped to 58.8 percent of the consumption expenditure (the Engel coefficient) in 1994. At the same time, the consumption of durable goods increased greatly in the countryside. The average number of TV sets was 75.3 per 100 households, tape recorders 26, and washing machines 15 in rural areas in 1994; the average per-capita living area was 20.2 square meters in the countryside.

Owing to improvement in the quality of life, the mortality rate of the Chinese people dropped to 6.49 per 1,000 in 1994 from 6.67 per 1,000 in 1990, two or more per thousand points lower than some developed Western countries.

Though China's economy has developed rapidly and the people's living standard has improved markedly, the overall level of China's economic development still has a long way to go compared with some developed Western countries. According to data issued by the World Bank on September 17, 1995, China was, in terms of wealth, the 31st from the bottom in a list of 192 countries and regions in the world. The estimated average per-capita wealth was only US$ 6,600. There is also unequal economic development between China's eastern coastal areas and its central and western areas because of natural conditions and historical reasons.

China's basic principle for developing a socialist economy is that consideration be given to both efficiency and fairness. While some areas and some people become rich first, they are encouraged to help poor areas and people get rich, so that all the people in the country will ultimately become rich and prosperous. Therefore, the Chinese government has always attached great importance to helping the central and western areas develop their economy, raise the living standard of the people, and actively help the poor people get rid of poverty.

Since 1991 the Chinese government and people have exerted unremitting effort to solve the problem of food and clothing for poor people. By the end of 1994 another 15 million people were lifted out of poverty, reducing the number of poor people from 85 million in 1990 to 70 million, and the proportion of poor people in the rural population was reduced from 10.1 percent to 8.2 percent. In the last few years, production and the living conditions and infrastructure in the still poor areas have improved greatly.

In order to support the work of aiding the poor, the Central Government allocated a total of 30.58 billion yuan from 1991 to 1994 to help poor areas. The state helped poor areas build an infrastructure of water, electricity and roads, improve the ecological environment and basic production and living conditions, and build stable and high-yield farmland despite drought or excessive rain. Statistics show that in 1994, 9.96 million mu of farmland and 13.71 million mu of cash crop land had been added in 592 poor counties where major help had been provided. At the same time, drinking water for 7.18 million people had been provided, 20,285 kilometers of highway had been built, 32,596 kilometers of new transmission lines had been installed, and 2,166 primary schools and 617 clinics had been built in these counties. Various circles and people's organizations in China have played an active part in aiding the poor in different ways.

Even so, the work of aiding the poor in China is still a long-term and arduous task. At present, 70 million people do not have enough food and clothing. Most of them are living deep in the mountains, in karst, desolate, high and cold areas, and in loess plateau regions in central and western China, and in areas where endemic diseases rage. To get rid of poverty, more than 5 million of them have to move to other places. More must be done to help these people get away from poverty. More arduous tasks confront us. To tackle this question, the Chinese government drew up a plan in March 1994 and decided from that year to concentrate manpower and material and financial resources and to mobilize people from various circles in the society to solve the food and clothing problems for the 70 million people by the end of this century, thereby improving their basic human rights.

At present, China is drawing up the Ninth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and a longrange objective for 2010. It plans to quadruple the 1980 per capita GNP and ensure that people have enough food and clothing and live a comparatively comfortable life by 2000, even though China's population will by then have increased by about 300 million over that of 1980. By 2010 the GNP will have doubled that of 2000 and the people will be well off. Implementation of the Ninth Five-Year Plan and the 2010 long-range objective will enable the Chinese people to realize their right to existence and development on a higher level and broader scope than before.