Full Text: Progress in China's Human Rights in 2009

I. The People's Rights to Subsistence and Development

In 2009, to overcome the impact of the international financial crisis, the Chinese government invested 4,000 billion yuan in the improvement of the people's livelihood, economic growth and restructuring, and steady yet rapid socioeconomic development. Remarkable results have been achieved in those fields. According to statistics, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009 exceeded 34,000 billion yuan, an increase of 9.1 percent over the previous year. The grain output hit a historical high of 531 million tons, an increase for the sixth consecutive year. Thus the Chinese people's general standard of living has been further improved on the basis of economic and social development.

The general standard of living of the people continued to rise. In 2009 the per capita net income of rural residents was 5,153 yuan, and the per capita disposable income of urban residents was 17,175 yuan, an increase of 8.5 percent and 9.8 percent respectively over the previous year. The Engel coefficient (i.e. the proportion of food expenditure in the total consumption spending) per rural and urban household was 41 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively. In 2009 China allocated a special fund for construction totaling 55.056 billion yuan, built two million housing units for low-income residents, and renovated 1.3 million housing units in run-down areas in forest and reclamation areas, coalmining regions and part of the run-down urban areas. The housing conditions for urban and rural residents steadily improved over the past year. By the end of 2009 car ownership had reached 31.36 million, an increase of 28.6 percent over the previous year, among which 26.05 million were private cars, an increase of 33.8 percent. The combined number of fixed and mobile phone users reached 1,061.07 million, an increase of 79.47 million over that at the end of the previous year. There are now 79.9 telephones for every 100 people. The number of domestic tourists last year was 1.9 billion person/times, and the number of Chinese citizens traveling abroad reached 47.66 million person/times, increases of 11.1 percent and 4 percent, respectively, over the previous year.

In the meantime, China is taking further steps to promote agricultural development and construction in the rural areas, and to increase farmers' incomes. In 2009 the state adopted the Opinions on Promoting the Stable Development of Agriculture and Sustainable Increase of Farmers' Incomes in 2009 and the Opinions on Promoting the Stable Development of Agriculture and Sustainable Increase of Farmers' Incomes at Present. The appropriation from the central budget in this regard totaled 725.3 billion yuan, an increase of 21.8 percent over the previous year. The farmers' living conditions have effectively improved. In 2009 China renovated 800,000 dilapidated houses in the countryside, and helped build permanent housing for 92,000 nomadic families. The drinking water problems for 60.69 million rural residents were resolved. From 2000 to 2009, China solved the drinking water problems for 225 million rural residents, and reached the target in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of "reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015," six years ahead of schedule.

China attaches great importance to improving the production and living conditions of the impoverished population. In 2009 the state's input of money for poverty reduction programs in rural areas increased by three billion yuan over the previous year to 19.73 billion yuan, with additional input of 25.2 billion yuan in the form of credit funds through interest subsidies for the same purpose. In 2009 the state raised the poverty level to 1,196 yuan per person per year on average, and by this criterion there were 40.07 million people living under the poverty level in China. By the end of 2009 the size of the impoverished population in rural China had decreased to 35.971 million, making up 3.8 percent of the rural population. The per capita annual income of farmers in the counties which are key targets of the government's poverty reduction work increased from 2,611 yuan in 2008 to 2,842 yuan in 2009, a higher increase rate than that of the average level in China's rural areas.

China is also striving to improve the public health care system and the people's health in general. In 2009 the total health care expenditure in China reached 1,720.481 billion yuan, making up 4.96 percent of China's GDP, and the per capita health care expenditure was 1,192 yuan. The state allocated a special fund of 21.7 billion yuan for building the medical services system at the grassroots level, supporting the construction of 986 county-level hospitals (including hospitals of traditional Chinese medicine), 3,549 hospitals in central towns and townships and 1,154 community health service centers. The state also allocated 1.73 billion yuan in subsidies to medical institutions at the grassroots level for the purchase of medical equipment. In 2009, 11.26 million rural pregnant women and women in labor received government subsidies so that they could give birth in hospitals, 11.86 million women in the countryside were provided gratis with folic acid three months before they got pregnant or three months into pregnancy, two million rural women received cervical cancer screening, and more than 28 million children aged under 15 years received vaccinations against hepatitis B. In 2009 more than 210,000 cataract operations were carried out for impoverished patients, and monitoring of drinking water quality was carried out at 30,000 rural water-supply projects. By the end of 2009 HIV/AIDS treatment was available in 31 of China's provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government), and 79,946 AIDS patients and 1,793 children with AIDS had received treatment. Also in 2009, China launched the emergency response mechanism to Influenza A (H1N1) virus, and effectively prevented the spread of the disease. At present, China has 289,000 health-care institutions, 5.22 million medical professionals, 3.96 million hospital and clinic beds and 910,000 beds at township hospitals. The average life expectancy of the Chinese people was 73 years in 2009, and the mortality rate of women in childbirth was reduced to 31.9 per 100,000, with infant mortality rate dropping to 1.38 percent.

China is strengthening legislation and supervision of production safety. In 2009 China issued 12 related departmental rules including the Interim Provisions on Supervision and Administration of Occupational Health at Workplaces, enacted and amended 53 standards of production safety, including special ones for the coal industry, and further strengthened workplace safety protection for employees. In 2009 a total of 18 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) assigned special production safety law-enforcement personnel, all prefecture-level city governments and 97 percent of the county-level governments set up production safety supervisory and regulatory agencies, and 75 percent of the towns, townships and sub-districts established full-time or part-time production safety agencies. At the same time, five more coal mine safety sub-bureaus were set up within the supervision system, and nationwide 29,880 people were held accountable and punished for work-place accidents in 2009. In 2009 the number of workplace accidents and fatalities shrank by 34,930 and 7,980, respectively, down 8.4 percent and 8.8 percent over the previous year. The number of major workplace accidents and fatalities dropped by 50 percent and 56.1 percent, respectively, over the previous year. The number of deaths per 100 million yuan GDP was 0.248, down by 16.7 percent over the previous year. On March 28, 2010, an accident took place at the Wangjialing Coal Mine in Shanxi Province, and 153 miners were trapped underground. After an ordeal of eight days and eight nights, 115 of them were rescued, a remarkable feat in the history of Chinese mine rescues.

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