III. Citizens Enjoy Economic,
Cultural and Social Rights

The human rights advocated by China encompass not only the right to subsistence and the civic and political rights, but also economic, cultural and social rights. The Chinese government pays due attention to the protection and realization of the rights of the country, the various nationalities and private citizens to economic, cultural, social and political development.

Socialist China eliminated the system of exploitation of man by man, thus making it possible for the first time in history for all working people to secure the right to equal economic development. China upholds the socialist system of public ownership of the means of production as the mainstay while at the same time permitting and encouraging the appropriate development of other economic sectors as supplements to the socialist economy. It will neither adopt a unitary public ownership system, which is divorced from the nation's current level of development of productive forces, nor practice privatization, which tends to shake the dominant position of public ownership in the national economy. Public ownership of the means of production constitutes the basis of China's socialist economic system. It guarantees that the major means of production in society are possessed by all the working people through the ownership by the whole people and the collective ownership by the laboring masses. The working people enjoy the right to manage, control and use the means of production. According to statistics, the total social investment in fixed assets in China came to 444.9 billion yuan in 1990, of which 291.9 billion yuan, or 65.6 percent, was invested in units owned by the whole people, and 52.9 billion, or 11.9 percent, in collectively-owned units. That is to say, the bigger share (77.5 percent) of the social investment in fixed assets is owned by the state and the collectives of the laboring masses.

The distribution system adopted in China is mainly based on the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his work." At the same time, the government allows and encourages some people to become rich first by the sweat of their brow and though legitimate business activities. Those who get rich first can then help others, so that common prosperity can be achieved. This brings into play the enthusiasm of the laboring masses and at the same time prevents polarization. China is one of the nations that register the lowest income gap in the world. According to 1990 statistics, the 20 percent of urban dwellers with the highest spendable incomes earn only 2.5 times as much as the 20 percent with the lowest incomes. This very fact has made it possible for China, an economically underdeveloped country, to guarantee the livelihood of its 1.1 billion people and avoid social confrontation resulting from polarization.

Economic equality has motivated the laboring people to a great extent and brought about speedy growth of the Chinese economy.

Over the past 40-odd post-liberation years and particularly in the past decade and more since the adoption of the policy of reform and opening to the outside world, China has all along been in the front rank of the world in terms of the rate of economic growth. The annual increase of GNP was 6.9 percent during the 1953-90 period and 8.8 percent during the 1979-90 period. China now leads the world in the output of many important products, including grain, cotton, pork, beef, mutton, cloth, coal, cement and television sets; and it has also emerged as one of the world's biggest producers of steel, crude oil, electricity and synthetic fibers.

With the growth of the national economy, the overall living standards of the Chinese people have greatly improved. Statistics show that in 1990 China's national income came to 1,442.9 billion yuan, or 11.9 times the 1952 figure of 58.9 billion yuan calculated according to constant prices. A good part of the national income was spent on consumer goods. In 1990, consumer spending amounted to 944.4 billion yuan, which was 8.4 times the 1952 figure of 47.7 billion yuan according to constant prices. Of the total volume of consumption, 810 billion yuan was spent by individual consumers, which was 7.3 times the 43.4 billion yuan in 1952 according to constant prices. The per-capita volume of consumption for the Chinese residents averaged 714 yuan in 1990, 3.7 times more than in 1952 according to constant prices, despite a 98.9 percent population increase in the intervening years. Now that the Chinese people have solved the basic problems of food and clothing, they are working their way toward a well-to-do life. According to statistics, in 1990 every hundred rural families owned 118.3 bicycles and 44.4 TV sets; and every hundred urban house-holds owned 188.6 bicycles, 111.4 TV sets, 42.3 refrigerators and 78.4 washing machines. In addition, the housing conditions of Chinese residents have improved, with the 1990 average per-capita living space increased to 7.1 square meters from 3.6 square meters in 1978 for urban dwellers and to 17.8 square meters from 8.1 square meters in 1978 for rural inhabitants. The speeds at which the economy grows and the people's living standards improve in New China are not only something inconceivable in old China, but also among the highest in the world community.

The right to work is a basic right of the citizens. In old China, people were deprived of the right to work according to their own will. This right was controlled by the landlords and capitalists, the owners of the means of production. The working people were constantly threatened by the prospect of unemployment. When China was liberated in 1949, a total of 4.742 million, or 60 percent of the total labor force in the cities, were jobless. It is stipulated in the Constitution that Chinese citizens have both the right and the duty to work. The government took all sorts of measures and solved the problem of unemployment, thereby enabling the masses of the working people to take part in socialist construction as masters of the society. In the 12 years between 1979 and 1990, a total of 94 million new jobs were created in urban areas. With the expansion of the productive forces, the problem of rural surplus labor emerged as a major issue. The Chinese government has adopted the policy for some of the farmers to "leave the field but remain in the village," and, by vigorously developing rural enterprises and encouraging individual households to run industrial and sideline occupations along specialized lines, found the fundamental way out for the surplus labor force in rural areas. Since 1985, the unemployment rate in urban areas has remained at around 2.5 percent, which is fairly low as compared with other countries in the world.

The Constitution provides that public property and the legitimate property of citizens are protected. Public property owned by the state, collective property owned by the working people, and the legitimate property owned by individuals are all protected by law. Any organization or individual is thus forbidden to occupy, seize, share out or destroy such properties. It is also forbidden to seal up, withhold, freeze or confiscate such properties by illegal means. The state protects the citizens' ownership and inheritance rights to their legitimate income, savings, housing and other legitimate properties. The rights of use and contract management of state-owned land, forests, mountains, grassland, uncultivated land, beaches and waters obtained by units under public ownership and collective ownership and private citizens through legal means are protected by law. Whoever infringes upon such rights shall be dealt with by legal means. At present, there are more than 90,000 private enterprises in China. Like the properties of units under public ownership or collectively owned by the laboring people, the legitimate properties of private enterprises are under the protection of law and shall not be illegally seized, sealed up or confiscated. The Chinese government also provides legal protection to foreign investment, joint ventures with Chinese and foreign investment and solely foreign-owned enterprises in China.

The right of education is an important prerequisite for the overall, free development of human beings. In old China, the majority of the working people did not have such a right. With only less than 20 percent of school-age children going to school, more than 80 percent of the total population were illiterate. After the founding of New China, the government took various measures to guarantee the citizens' right of education by devoting great efforts to the development of education. By 1989, China had set up 1.045 million schools at various levels in urban and rural areas. Among them 1,075 were regular institutions of higher learning. In 1990, about 99.77 percent of school-age children in the cities and 97.29 percent of school-age children in the countryside were attending school. The numbers of college, middle school and primary school students were respectively 17.6 times, 40.3 times, and 5 times the 1949 figures. During the 1949-90 period, a total of 7.608 million graduate and undergraduate students completed their college education, almost 40 times the total between 1912 and 1948 in old China.

Since China adopted the policy of reform and opening to the outside world, the number of students studying abroad has been rapidly increasing. Since 1978, China has sent 150,000 students in various disciplines of learning to study in 86 countries and regions. So far almost 50,000 of them have returned after finishing their studies, and over 100,000 of them are staying abroad. After the political incident of 1989, the number of Chinese going abroad to study has not decreased but has increased to some extent. In 1990, China completed its plan of sending 3,000 government-sponsored students abroad for academic pursuits. Meanwhile, about 6,000 students were sent to foreign countries by various units, and 20,000 (not including those enrolled in Australian and Japanese language schools) paid their own way to study abroad.

According to statistics of departments concerned in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, more than 3,000 students have returned from overseas and have started work at their new posts during the past two years. In the meantime, more than 5,700 students have returned to countries where they study after coming home to visit relatives, take vacation or do short-term jobs. According to international norm, Chinese students who are sponsored by the government to study abroad have the duty to return to serve their home country. The Chinese government, always valuing returned students and creating favorable working conditions for them upon return to China, has set up special organizations to take direct responsibility in receiving and arranging suitable jobs for returned students. More than 70 post-doctoral mobile research centers and short-term working stations have been set up by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and various universities, offering fine research and living conditions for those who have returned. Moreover, the Chinese government and related departments have set up a number of foundations to raise funds for scientific research and to aid returned students in research and teaching activities.

The Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of scientific research and literary and artistic creation. In order to promote the development of scientific research and to bring about cultural and artistic prosperity, the Chinese government upholds the guideline of "serving the people and socialism" and the principle of "letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred of schools of thought contend." Since the founding of New China, the contingent of scientists and technicians has steadily expanded. In 1990, state-run units employed a total of 10.808 million natural scientists and technical workers, 24.4 times more than the 1952 figure of 425,000. The State Commission of Natural Science Foundation has since its establishment in February 1986 accepted 34,847 applications for scientific research projects which call for a total allotment of 2.31 billion yuan. Large numbers of outstanding achievements have been registered in the field of science and technology. In biological science, Chinese scientists succeeded in making synthetic bovine insulin and in converting yeast alanine into synthetic ribonucleic acid (RNA); in agricultural science, experiments in hybrid paddy rice have been successful; in high-energy physics, an electron-positron collider was constructed; other achievements in high technology are represented by the successful explosion of atomic and hydrogen bombs, the making of super-computers capable of 100 million calculations per second, the launching of the Long March III carrier rocket and the research in satellite telecommunications and superconductivity. In all these fields, China has either reached or approached advanced world levels.

China has formed a legal system to protect intellectual property rights. A trademark law and a patent law have been promulgated and put in force. On June 1, 1991, a copyright law went into effect. According to 1990 statistics, more than 270,000 valid trademarks have been registered; and 66 countries and regions have applied for patent rights in China. By the end of 1990, American enterprises alone have applied for registration of 12,528 patent rights in China.

Public health facilities are a necessary guarantee for the human rights of life and health. In old China, health organizations and technicians were in short supply and at a low level and the majority of them were concentrated in urban areas. After the founding of New China, a public health network was gradually established. Covering all the cities and countryside, this network includes many kinds of health organizations at various levels and employs different types of public health workers. In 1990, there were 209,000 health institutions across the land, 56.9 times that of 1949. The number of hospital beds rose to 2.624 million, a 32.8-fold increase; and the number of professional health workers reached 3.898 million, 7.7 times that of 1949. In the countryside where the majority of Chinese people live, there are 47,749 hospitals at the township level; health centers or clinics have been set up in 86.2 percent of all villages; the number of hospital beds has reached 1.502 million; and there are 1.232 million medical personnel and professional health workers. In China, every doctor serves an average of 649 people whereas in medium-income countries the figure is 2,390. With the development of medical and public health undertakings, the incidence of infectious and endemic diseases has been drastically reduced. Such highly infectious diseases as leprosy, cholera, the plague, and smallpox have been basically eradicated. Snail fever, Kaschin-Beck disease, the Keshan disease and other endemic diseases have come under control. The development of medical care and epidemic prevention has greatly improved the health of the Chinese people. Impressed by what he called China's "surprising" achievements in medical care, Dr. Bernard P. Kean, the World Health Organization's representative in China, said that he could hardly believe it was a developing country by looking only at such statistics as life expectancy, infant mortality, and causes of death.

The Chinese nation has a fine tradition of respecting elderly people. This tradition has been carried forward in New China. Senior citizens have the right to material assistance from the state and society. By the end of 1990, there had been 23.01 million people in the whole country living on retirement pensions. The proportion of the number of retired workers to the number of workers still in service is 1:6. In 1990, the pension for an average retired worker was 60 percent of the average pay for a worker in service, which ensured the livelihood of senior citizens in retirement, who also had the help and care of people from all walks of life. In urban areas, one of the major tasks of Neighborhood Committees is to help widowed senior citizens and safeguard their rights and interests. Welfare institutions and senior citizen homes have been set up respectively by the state and the collective enterprises to provide board and lodging and other free services for senior citizens without relatives to depend on. In rural areas, childless and infirm old people are guaranteed food, clothing, housing, medical care and burial expenses by society and collectives. The legal rights of senior citizens are protected by law; it is forbidden to abuse, insult, slander, ill-treat or abandon them. Adult offspring have the obligation to provide for their parents.

China attaches great importance to guaranteeing the rights of women, children and teenagers.

According to the Constitution, women share equal rights with men in political, economic, cultural, social and family life. Like men, they have the right to elect and to be elected. A considerable percentage of people's deputies and officials at various levels are women. Of the people's deputies elected in 1988 to the Seventh National People's Congress, 634, or 21.3 percent, were women. At present, 5,600 women serve as judges in the people's courts. The state lays special stress on training and promoting women cadres. The number of women serving in government offices has increased from 366,000 in 1951 to 8.7 million; this accounts for 28.8 percent of the total number of civil servants. In China, men and women get equal pay for equal work. Working women enjoy the right of special labor protection and labor insurance. The total number of women workers in China has increased from 600,000 in 1949 to 53 million. Women's right to education is also duly respected. In 1990, the total number of female students at school reached 78.81 million. These included 700,000 college students, 21.56 million middle-school students and 56.56 million primary school students, accounting for 33.7 percent, 42.2 percent and 46.2 percent respectively of the total number of students at school and college.

The state also pays special attention to protecting women's right to freedom of choice in marriage and forbids mercenary and arranged marriages and other acts of interference in other people's freedom of marriage. The judicial departments have taken stern measures according to law against criminals engaged in the sale of women.

The state has formulated laws and regulations to protect children. It is strictly forbidden to ill-treat and sell children and to use child labor. In order to safeguard the life and health of children, the state has issued a decision on strengthening and improving the health care in nurseries and kindergartens, and formulated special regulations to prevent and treat diseases such as infantile paralysis, smallpox, diphtheria and tuberculosis. China enjoys a relatively high rate of health care for children and of schooling for school-age children compared with other developing countries. The rate of inoculated children in China has almost reached the average level of developed countries.

However, China is still a developing country which is marked for its backward economic and cultural development, and much remains to be done to further expand the people's economic, cultural and social rights. In the Ten-Year Program for the National Economy and Social Development (1991-2000), concrete targets and measures are set forth for the further improvement of the people's economic, cultural and social rights.