How is China's present situation and what will be the development trend in next year? The relevant social problems in China are given an interpretation and forecast in the blue paper titled "2007: Situation Analysis and Prediction of Chinese Society". The paper, done jointly by research institutes of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and university experts, was published by the CASS on December 25.
Urban and rural residents optimistic about socio-economic situation
Survey findings: about 90% of urban and rural residents are optimistic about China's socio-economic situation.
Data support: From March to July, 2006, the CASS, by taking a strict, scientific social surveying method, carried out a "national sample survey on social harmony and stability" across the country, and it has so far collected 7,061 valid questionnaires from more than 7,140 urban and rural households in 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities nationwide.
About 83.4% of those polled "relatively agree" or "very much agree" to the question that "some problems emerging in China's current social development are only temporary ones"; about 91.6% "relatively agree" or "very much agree" to the judgment that the "Party and the government is capable of governing the country well"; 88.9% "relatively agree" or "very much agree" that they "take pride in China's international status"; around 90.5% "relatively agree" or "very much agree" that "the overall situation in China's economic and social development is very good."
Experts' explanation: Professor Li Peilin, chief editor of the blue paper and president of the Institute of Sociology of the CASS, said China has witnessed a high growth rate with its peak growth period already sustaining for six to seven years. This has never happened since its reform and opening up started in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. Most economists and sociologists unanimously hold that a relatively high growth speed will be retained in Chinese economy next year, he added.
Urban and rural residents acknowledge social harmony and stability
Survey findings: about three-quarters of the urban and rural residents acknowledge social harmony and stability in the present stage of Chinese society, which represent the leading characteristics of the current social situation in China.
Data support: According to the national sample survey on "social harmony and stability", some 74.9% of China's urban and rural residents consider China "very harmonious" or "relatively harmonious", and around 75.8% regard the present stage of Chinese society as "relatively stable" or "very stable".
Experts' explanation: Prof. Li Peilin noted that people's recognition of social harmony and stability is relevant very closely to the improvement of their livelihood. With more improved livelihood,, the people incline to think more of today's society as harmonious and stable. Consequently, people deem that the constant improvement of people's living standards is a crucial foundation for building a harmonious society. In 2007, the construction of a harmonious socialist society will be unfolded in an all-round way. China is implementing a range of measures to expand social education, health care, social distribution, public services, and so on, which will bring a new look to the entire society.
Social security constitutes a top concern of the general public
Survey findings: in year 2006, "social security" issue replaced "the issue of being laid-off" as the primary social issue of concern to both urban and rural residents.
Data support: (the data for analysis were collected by a survey conducted in five cities, five small towns and five rural areas in October. In term of the dual structure and step-by-step development characteristics of China's social security system in urban and rural areas, the survey only examined the social security conditions among urban residents.) The poll outcome showed that among the eight social security programs listed in the survey, 32.5% of those polled said they enjoy one or two programs of the eight listed. About 24.8% said they enjoy three to five programs; 36.2% said they have access to none of the eight programs. The coverage rate of the eight social security programs is apparently much lower in small town areas than in urban areas.
Difficult and costly access to medical care deserve adequate attention
Survey findings: both urban and rural residents hold that they have difficulties with their"medical care" as they have to pay heavily in case of illness. "Difficult and costly medical care", "unemployment" and "excessive income disparity and the gap between the rich and the poor" represent the three most outstanding social problems at present.
Data support: According to the survey outcome, the top three social problems in order are "difficult and costly medical care", "unemployment" and "an excessive income disparity and the gap between the rich and the poor". Of the average annual per-capita expenditure of urban and rural households, the ratio of expenses on medical care and education accounts 11.8% and 10.6% respectively (18.2% after excluding the spending of those households with non-education expense), much higher than the proportion of transport and communications expenditure (7.4%) and that of the fees to buy clothing (6.3%).
By People's Daily Online