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Special> 2010 in Retrospect> Archives
UPDATED: January 5, 2011 NO. 1 JANUARY 3, 2008
NO. 52, 2007

A Year of Change

Economic Features in 2007

The Top 10 Matters That Matter 

The Top 10 Matters That Matter

To review what matters most to the people of China, the country's official Xinhua News Agency created a list of the 10 greatest changes in 2007. Here are the issues that reflect the pulse of the past year

Easier education for 150 million kids

A total of 150 million rural students in China were exempted from paying tuition and incidental fees for their nine-year compulsory education starting from the 2007 spring semester. The move was designed as a step forward in China's overall policy to ensure that all school-age children enjoy nine-year compulsory education for free.

The government's policy of providing free textbooks for poor rural students was expanded to all 150 million rural students in primary and junior high schools across the country. The government also allocated 14 billion yuan ($1.8 million) to improve the country's education assistance system.

200 million under medical shelter

Following the medical insurance system for urban workers and the new rural cooperative medical system, the Chinese State Council set out to launch a pilot urban resident basic medical insurance system, in order to realize the target of establishing a basic medical security system covering all the urban and rural inhabitants.

The basic medical security system has benefited some 200 million urban residents, particularly primary and junior high school students, minors, the elderly and disadvantaged groups.

Basic living for more than 20 million farmers

A basic living allowance system in rural areas was formally established in all 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of China in July 2007, 10 years after a similar system was set up in urban areas. So far the system covers more than 20 million rural residents across China.

The amount of subsidies given by the government varies in different areas according to economic conditions, but the basic requirement is to provide food and clothing for needy people both in urban and rural areas.

Currently the average basic living cost in urban areas nationwide is 169.6 yuan ($22.3) per person per month and the average basic living cost in rural areas is 71.4 yuan ($9.39).

Protecting property

China's top legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), adopted a landmark property law this year, granting equal protection to public and private property.

The 247-article law, which came into effect on October 1, 2007, stipulates that "the property of the state, the collective, the individual and other parties is protected by law, and no units or individuals may infringe upon it."

This is the first time that equal protection of state and private property has been enshrined in Chinese law, which marks a significant step in the country's efforts to further economic reforms and boost social harmony.

Property income hailed

"Conditions would be created to enable citizens to have property income so as to increase the income of urban and rural residents," Hu Jintao said in his keynote speech at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on October 15, 2007.

Jiang Jianqing, Board Chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, said it was the first time that the ruling CPC had explicitly placed such a message within a keynote document.

The words reflect a striking feature of the times as more and more people realize that wealth accumulation is to retain and increase the value of assets, said Wu Yan, Board Chairman of the People's Insurance Company (Group) of China.

Property income refers to the capital gains from bank deposits, securities, real estate, automobiles and collections. Currently, China's per-capita property income contributes only 2 percent to the country's per-capita disposable income on average after it rose 26.5 percent to 240 yuan ($32) last year.

Low-rent housing for all

The Chinese Government has extended the low-rent housing system to cover medium- and low-income families nationwide this year. All cities and counties had come under the system's aegis by the end of 2007.

Low-income families have only limited access to affordable housing due to an over-reliance by local governments on the highly lucrative property industry for fiscal revenue. A report released by the China Society for Urban Studies revealed that China has an alarming 1.56 million urban families with no access to adequate affordable housing, many of whom are living in overcrowded and dilapidated homes.

Low-rent apartments are essential to China's housing security system. They are either built or commissioned by the government and provided to poor urban families at discounted rents.

CPI concern

China's consumer price index (CPI), an inflation indicator, was pushed up to 4.4 percent in the first 10 months of 2007 by high-flying food prices led by pork and edible oil. Monthly CPI was above 6 percent for three straight months from August to October, high above the country's 3 percent alert threshold.

But the current figure paled in comparison to inflation that hit China during the 1990s, when the CPI soared 27.4 percent year on year in September 1994. The National Bureau of Statistics has forecast the annual CPI at 4.5 to 4.6 percent this year.

The Central Government increased financial aid by 1.8 billion yuan ($ 243 million) to help the recipients of minimum living allowances and poor college students. Livestock raisers were also encouraged to breed pigs by receiving subsidies from the government.

Labor contract law

China's Labor Contract Law was passed by the Standing Committee of the NPC on June 29, 2007 and entered into force on January 1, 2008. The law is likely to cause employers, including foreign-invested enterprises, to review and restructure their labor contracts and human resources policies.

This new law is based on the legal principles that underlie the current Labor Law. It, however, operates independently of the Labor Law and is intended to make the labor contract system more detailed and operable. It has brought about several breakthroughs and improvements in respect of labor contracts.

Ecological civilization

In his report to the 17th National Congress of the CPC, General Secretary Hu Jintao proposed to "construct an ecological civilization by taking charge of the industrial structure, spending patterns, resource conservation and environmental protection."

An ecological civilization refers to one that obtains materials and spiritual wealth by following the objective principle of the harmonious development of humankind, nature and society. It is a cultural philosophy governing the relations between mankind and nature, mankind and mankind, and mankind and society.

Holiday system renewed

The Chinese Government announced the scrapping of one of the country's three golden-week holidays and introduced three new one-day public holidays.

The new national public holiday plan added three traditional festivals-Tomb-Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival-to the list of public holidays.

The new plan will uphold Chinese traditions, make public holidays better distributed and, with more people traveling on new public and paid holidays, ease overcrowding during the golden weeks.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

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