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Two Sessions: What everyday Chinese care about [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2018-3-15 09:13:02 |Display all floors

(CGTN) China’s leaders, currently gathered in Beijing for the annual Two Sessions political meetings, have laid out a raft of reform plans for the next few years.

But which matter most to ordinary Chinese?

In his government work report, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang highlighted a number of key areas where China needs to implement new reforms or push on with existing ones. These ranged from cutting overcapacity and combating financial risks, to promoting innovation and international cooperation.

A Beijing community center distributes food to elderly residents on March 14, 2018. /VCG Photo

For people CGTN spoke to on the streets of Beijing, however, the main issues of concern were closer to home, directly affecting them and their loved ones.

Here are a few of the issues they raised and what the government has promised to do about them.  

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Post time 2018-3-15 09:13:46 |Display all floors

Social reforms

Elderly people living in rural areas… have to rely on their children to take care of them. If their children don’t take care of them, things get very hard.

Mrs. Song, 50

China has expanded its pension and welfare systems in recent years but some areas and certain communities still lack coverage.

Over the next few years, China’s leaders have promised to raise pensions and social assistance benefits, as well as do more to provide elderly care and tackle the ageing population problem.

As part of poverty alleviation efforts, 60 million people currently live on social assistance allowances, and a total 900 million Chinese are involved in pension systems, according to the government report.

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Medical reforms

I hope they can make the reimbursement of medical fees easier.

Pang Chaodong, 63

Getting a doctor’s appointment is not always easy and affordable medical care is limited in some parts of China, a factor often mentioned in discussions about poverty alleviation.

A nurse takes care of a patient at Xinqiao Hospital in Chongqing, China on March 13, 2018. /VCG Photo

A reform of the public hospital system is already ongoing but basic medical and serious disease insurance benefits, as well as government subsidies for rural workers and non-working urban residents in need of insurance, are also due to be increased in the near future, the government has promised.

Crucially, plans are also underway to make it easier for patients to settle their medical bills across provinces and to provide coverage for migrant workers.

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Post time 2018-3-15 09:14:33 |Display all floors

Housing reforms

The development of different cities can be more even, not like now. Most of the population lives in the cities.

Mr. Sun, 35

China has seen housing prices surge over the past few years while urban centers have struggled to accommodate large numbers of people moving from the countryside to the cities.

Construction workers assemble scaffolding on a housing complex in Beijing on August 15, 2017. /VCG Photo

In its report, the government promised to “better address people’s housing needs.” “We must be clear that houses are for living in, not for speculation,” it added.

This year alone, it plans to renovate 5.8 million units in run-down areas. It has also promised to expand its public-rental housing scheme to provide for low-income families, including migrant workers.

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Access to services

China’s hukou system – which limits access to certain services outside one’s official household registration location – has long caused problems for the legions of migrant workers who travel from the countryside to the cities to look for work.

But urban workers looking to relocate to other cities also worry about this, as one young mother of two, whose husband currently works in Jinan, in eastern Shandong province, told CGTN.

I hope there won’t be too many restrictions for my kids to get into school. We want to all move there.

Mother-of-two, Beijing resident.

A Beijing resident and her child. /CGTN Photo

Already, medical reforms are looking to help people without local hukou registration and a residence card system has been introduced nationwide, allowing access to basic services for all holders.

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Post time 2018-3-15 09:15:11 |Display all floors

Environment and pollution

Unusually, this year’s Two Sessions have taken place amid severe smog. Big political events in China often coincide with beautiful blue skies but the air quality index in Beijing has hovered above 200 – a level considered "very unhealthy" – in the last few days.

Still, this winter saw a marked improvement in the capital – noticed by local residents and confirmed by official data.

In his report, Li listed the fight against pollution as one of three “critical battles.”

Not just air pollution, but water and soil pollution need to be tackled, while ecosystems need to be restored – through planting forests, establishing national parks, and protecting wetlands and coastal areas – all in a bid “to build a Beautiful China where the skies are blue, the land is green and the waters are clear.”‍

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Post time 2018-3-15 10:41:11 |Display all floors
It is not feasible for a government planning report to comprehensively list out all the peoples' needs. At most to keep its size manageable and its use easier, such reports will have to deliberate on macro matters and identify large programs. The micro day-to-day needs can be addressed at each local level using the report as guidance. The challenge to governments of big countries is to make sure there is consistency between what is designed at macro level and really applied at micro local levels. So long as the gist of what is intended is clearly understood from the report, the local programs and improvements can be rolled out with confidence but subject to internal and external audits on standards and targets.

The problems of cost-of-living and future ability to meet them are a global phenomena. Jobs, health, housing and education are key areas the same everywhere. For a country of China's size and diversity, it is more difficult but with clarity and confidence, the government can overcome many hurdles ahead to serve the peoples more. But the private sector should also do its part with greater initiative to supplement and complement the government's efforts by investing in new ways to do things better and faster.

As people get older, one key concern which has assailed societies in other countries is cost of healthcare. Sometimes this cost is created by commercial reasons only where patients are recommended to do more unnecessary tests or buy more expensive medicines. To streamline the healthcare market, some more research should be done on preventive measures each citizen can take throughout his working life. Not just medical insurance to pay for future treatments but also lifestyle changes from personal tests using new but simple and comprehensive health monitoring devices. Although the US' Theranos company has just closed because of fraud, the concept of self-monitoring of health can be realized. A single simple device anyone can use to monitor his health across a spectrum of potential illnesses statistically based on age and background. Such a concept can reduce future health costs by earlier and cheaper treatment at the sub-malignant stage. Which will also reduce the tendency of medical insurance costs to inflate in consort with the commercial interests of healthcare providers.

Everywhere in the world, expectations and costs rise but ability to meet costs may not rise fast enough. Careful planning and honest implementation are needed all the more. The report is a good start.

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