China recently released its new national standards on basic public services.
The new standards marked a major institutional innovation for China to guarantee and improve people's livelihood, said Zhao Chenxin, secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner.
The standards cover 80 public services of 22 categories and nine aspects, including education, employment, medical services, elderly care, and housing.
They serve as important references for governments at all levels to fulfill their responsibilities in basic public services and guarantee that the Chinese people enjoy corresponding rights and interests, the secretary general explained. The standards are an important measure to advance the equalization of basic public services, he added.
In recent years, China has been witnessing increasingly improved basic public services. There are 6.51 hospital beds available per 1,000 people, and the country's radio and television services cover over 99 percent of its territory. Compulsory education is developing in a balanced manner in most of China's counties. Critical illness insurance program, social assistance system, elderly care, and other major mechanisms that concern the minimum standard of living have been gradually established optimized.
Besides, China has also built the world's largest social security system. As of the end of the last year, the per capita basic living allowance in urban areas of the country had reached 678 yuan ($105) per month and 5,962 yuan per year, and the number of Chinese covered by insurance against old age, medical problems, unemployment, and work injuries had reached 999 million, 1.36 billion, 217 million and 268 million, respectively.
The Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 proposed to obviously improve the equalization of basic public services by 2025, and that basic public services must be equalized by 2035.
According to the new standards on basic public services, local governments shall offer lifestyle and health assessment, physical examination, auxiliary examination and health guidance services for citizens aged 65 years and older once a year, and offer them traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physique analysis and health guidance once every year.
In addition, children aged between 0 and 6 can receive 13 free physical examinations, and those between 0 and 3 can get TCM recuperation twice a year.
The new standards request to offer subsidies for eligible seniors. For instance, the government shall subsidize elderly care services for seniors experiencing economic hardships, and offer nursing subsidies for those who can't take care of themselves because of illnesses. Senior citizens aged 80 years and above shall enjoy advanced age allowance.
According to incomplete statistics, by the end of the last year, a total of more than 30 million senior citizens across China had received subsidies, which practically solved the problems faced by many seniors.
The new standards stipulate that permanent residents aged 35 years and above who suffer from primary hypertension and type 2 diabetes shall be offered free health management services by health care organizations. Such patients can visit community health care centers, township hospitals and village clinics for corresponding free health services.
To meet people's expectation for housing, the new standards specified basic public service items about public rental houses, renovation of rundown urban areas, and renovation of rural dilapidated houses, which will help meet the basic housing demand of those living in poverty.