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SOCIAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

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POVERTY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development is the main governmental organisation responsible for the issues related to poverty alleviation. An Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development in Poverty-stricken Areas was also established.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The officials and the public in poor regions, with the support of the Government, are encouraged to alleviate poverty through self-reliance, hard work, scientific and technological progress, market-oriented production, developing and utilising local resources, increasing commodity production, and solving the supply problems of food and clothing. In this way, we hope to alleviate poverty.
According to the national poverty alleviation plan, called the Helping Eighty Million People in Seven Years Plan, the State will do all it can to solve the problems of inadequate food and clothing for the 80 million poverty-stricken rural people in a seven year period from 1994 to 2000. This will be accomplished by concentrating the manpower, material and financial resources of the country and mobilising all forces of society. After three years of hard work, China's poverty-stricken population had dropped from 80 to 58 million by the end of 1996. In 1995, the net annual per capita income for those counties listed as major alleviation targets by the State had reached RMB 824 yuan and the available per capita grain allocation reached 353.5 kg.
At present, 122 central party departments, State departments, large-scale enterprises, and institutions have established relationships of designated assistance with 330 key poor counties (these account for 56% of the poor counties in the country). In 1995 alone, the above-listed work units made investments worth RMB 947 million yuan in materials and capital and introduced investment worth RMB 990 million yuan into the recipient counties. The various State departments also started scores of departmental or sectoral plans for promoting development in poor regions, such as Poverty Alleviation through Transportation, Drinking Water for Both Humans and Livestock, and Common Prosperity through Development of the Electric Structure.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

Major Groups, such as Chinese Women's Organisations, Youth Organisations, Labour Unions, etc. have played a very important role in alleviating poverty in China.

Programmes and Projects   

Early in 1995, the State initiated the Projects for Cooperation between the Township Enterprises in East and West China with the aim to encourage the development of township and village enterprises in the poor central and western parts of the country and to promote growth of the rural economy. One hundred pilot areas for TVE cooperation will be set up in central and western China by the year 2000, with 1000 industrial pilot projects started, 1000 mature new technologies and products disseminated, and 100 sister counties (cities) of bilateral cooperation matched, in order to utilise regional advantages between the eastern and western regions, promote common prosperity, and narrow the regional disparity. In 1996, the State Council drew up a poverty-alleviation programme which required that six provinces and three municipalities directly under central administration, and four cities of independent economic planning along the coast help ten provinces and autonomous regions in the west. This programme has proceeded smoothly.

Status

By the end of 1992, there were 80 million Chinese people still living in poverty. These people (8.8% of the total rural population) live mostly in the rural areas of central and western China or in the remote mountains. In the early 1990s, the Chinese Government declared that it would work to solve the problems of food and clothing supplies for these 80 million poverty-stricken people by the year 2000 and thus enable poor regions to embark on the path of sustainable development early in the next century.
The Government has organised voluntary resettlement for those who are willing to leave those hometowns which are poor in natural conditions and resources. By moving out of these towns, nearly one million people have managed to find better food and clothing supplies. For example over 600,000 people have moved out of the desolate areas in the poorest regions of Dingxi Prefecture of Gansu Province and Xi-Hai-Gu Region of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
By 1995, poor counties, with major governmental support, had expanded the acreage of their basic farmland by 269,000 hectares. Also, drinking water was newly channelled to 7.56 million people and 6.09 million livestock. More than 30,000 kilometres of new highways had been constructed, so that 98.3% of the towns in the countryside are now connected by highways, more than 31,000 kilometres of electric transmission lines had been constructed (88.4% of the villages were powered by the grid network), and there were substantial improvements in cultural life, education, and sanitary conditions in the poor regions.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

In the implementation of the Spark Programme, the Food and Clothing Project was started in order to strengthen the technical training of the poverty-stricken population. Its objective is that each poor household will be able to apply one or two technologies. In 1995, this type of training was offered to 15 million people, thus broadly disseminating the applicable farming techniques and technologies, pushing ahead the Food and Clothing Project on alleviating poverty through science and technology, and improving the practices of farmers in a continuous fashion. Under the Food and Clothing Project, the 1995 grain yield registered an average increase of 2,385 kg per hectare on the 630,606 hectares of arable land in the poor regions. This project managed to provide adequate food and clothing to approximately 10 million poor people that year.

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies  

No information is available

Financing

In 1995, RMB 9.85 billion yuan from the central Government and RMB 2.1 billion yuan from local governments were invested in poverty alleviation. In addition, in 1994 and 1995 the central Government transferred part of the credit fund originally allocated to six provinces with faster economic development to the poorest regions in the southwest and northeast. In 1996, the central Government appropriated RMB 10.8 billion yuan as a special poverty alleviation fund.

Cooperation

The World Bank has provided a US$ 250 million loan to the first phase of the Southwestern China Poverty Alleviation Project. This project has been fully implemented in 35 key poor counties in Guizhou, Yunnan, and Guangxi Provinces. After the completion of the project, 3.5 million people will enjoy stable food and clothing supplies. The preparatory work for implementing the second phase of the poverty alleviation project has almost been completed. The next phase of the project, once again sponsored by the World Bank, will take place in the mountainous areas of Shaanxi and Sichuan in early 1997. Other projects of resource development are being carried out with support from the UNDP and various NGOs. Smooth progress has been recorded in a project for improving basic education in the poor areas. This project is being run by the State Education Commission and financed by a US$ 320 million loan from the World Bank.

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This information is based on China's submission to the 5th & 6th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: April 1998

For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Reversal of the Impoverishment-Degradation Spiral in the Karst Areas of Southwest China", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Sustainable Poverty Alleviation in China's Arid Northern Areas", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Reversal of the Impoverishment-Degradation Cycle in Jinshanmen Area", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Planning and Development in the Chinese Lancang-Mekong Border Area", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Research for Sustainable Development of the Area Along the Euro-Asian Rail Link in China", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Abatement of Poverty, Erosion And Pollution in the Upstream East Liaohe Basin", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Development and Conservation in the Yellow River Delta", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Economic Development and Natural Resource Conservation in the Hanas Border Area", click here:

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DEMOGRAPHICS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

Family Planning Commissions were established at different levels and they have the major responsibility for population issues in China.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

In order to solve the problems caused by an aging population, the Chinese Government is accelerating establishment of an endowment and medical insurance system for elderly people which is characterised by social provision, support from their children, self-reliance, and mutual supplement. Meanwhile, laws have been formulated and promulgated to foster the social custom of respecting older people. Services of many kinds are rendered to seniors, including the establishment of senior-aid institutions, such as elderly community service networks and apartments for the elderly. The Law of the People's Republic of China Concerning the Guarantee of the Rights and Interests of Women has been put into effect so as to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of women in education, employment, social participation, marriage, and family matters.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Family planning is an important strategic task for realising sustainable development. As early as 1982, the Chinese Government put family planning, population control, and improvement in the quality of lifestyle in its basic state policy and included these in the long-term plans for national economic and social development. In the 1990s, especially since the UNCED, the Chinese Government has, based on China's national conditions, constantly improved policies and plans on family planning, adopted integrated approaches for addressing population issues, and made great efforts to reduce the birth rate. Meanwhile, family planning was combined with development, poverty alleviation, educational promotion, women's status elevation, woman and infant medical care, social security development, rational development and utilisation of resources, and harmonious family establishment. The Government also offers guidance and services to families, especially poor families who are willing to follow the family planning programs, in order to develop and improve production, increase income, and improve living standards.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

Chinese Women's Organisations, Youth Organisation, and Labour Unions have been fully involved in the process of formulating and implementing population policies.

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status

China's population reached 1.224 billion at the end of 1996 (not including the populations of Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan). This huge population, although constituting a gigantic manpower supply for sustainable social and economic development, exerts a heavy pressure on resources and the environment. China faces its third baby boom in the 1990s. It is estimated that the population will grow to 1.3 billion by the year 2000 and to 1.5-1.6 billion by the middle of the next century. Therefore, controlling population growth and improving the standards of living are important strategic tasks for China's sustainable development.
In 1996, the national human fertility was 1.698%, a reduction of 0.408% compared with 2.106% in 1990. The natural population growth rate was 1.042%in 1996, a reduction of 0.397% compared with 1.439% in 1990. The total fertility rate of child-bearing age women has dropped to two. According to data from the United Nations, China's fertility is noticeably lower than the average of other developing countries.
In 1995, the average Chinese urban female adult enjoyed an average of 9.97 years of schooling. Their illiteracy and semi-literacy rate was only 2.07%. Among the women living in rural areas, 8.91% have a high school education, 26.62% have attended middle-school, and 27.91% have only attended primary school. The illiteracy and semi-literacy rate for rural women is 36.58%. 

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies  

No information is available

Financing  

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

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This information is based on China's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

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HEALTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Public Health is the governmental agency responsible for issues related to human health.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Chinese Government pays great attention to the people's rights of reproduction and their reproductive health, and has worked to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of women and children through legislation.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

In order to improve urban residents' health, a medical service and family planning network has been developed in China. In 1991, China begun to reform its medical insurance system for urban workers by combining social management with individual accounting. At the same time, a cooperative medical system has been developed.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

Educational activities are carried out throughout the country on such topics as contraception, sterilisation, good bearing and upbringing, and reproductive care. Efforts have been made to improve the quality of reproductive medical services. Demonstrations on offering high-quality family planning service have been performed in some regions so that people of child-bearing age may choose contraception or sterilisation measures on an informed basis and in a responsible manner. By 1996, more than 200 million child-bearing age people had taken contraception measures. The integrated contraception rate among married women is more than 80%.

Status

At present, the average life expectancy of Chinese people is 70 years, the infant mortality rate has dropped below 3.14%, the pregnant and postpartum women mortality rate is 0.0619%, and the planned children vaccination rate is 85% (using towns as the statistical unit). All the above statistics serve to illustrate that some major indices of people's sanitation and health of China are advanced in comparison to other countries at a similar economic development level.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies  

No information is available

Financing  

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

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This information is based on China's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Research and Development of Contraceptive Vaccine", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Establishing A Rural Health Insurance System", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 " Protection of Endangered Species Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Development of Alternatives", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 " Prevention of Occupational Diseases and Protection of the Working Environment in the Mining Industry", click here:
Click here to go to the Health and health-related statistical information from the World Health Organization.

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EDUCATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Chinese Government attaches great importance to education on sustainable development. Under its auspices, several universities have set up new faculties, departments or colleges of environment protection, and preparations are also being made for the establishment of other academic organisations (such as research centres, societies, and research institutes) which specialise in the research of sustainable development. Moreover, environment sections have been added to textbooks for primary and middle schools, with the aim of enhancing the young people's environmental awareness.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

Chinese women's organizations at different levels play a very important role on the promotion of women's education level in China. Many kinds of training courses and programmes on practical technologies and illiteracy-elimination have been conducted by them. The China Youth Fund launched and implemented the Hope Project which was designed to mobilise the entire society to help the young dropout in the poverty-stricken regions. The Labour Unions give full support to on-the-job training for employees of enterprises.

Programmes and Projects   

Since the UNCED, and particularly after the publication of China's Agenda 21, the Chinese Government, at all levels, has organised numerous training courses in various forms. These were intended to change the out-dated traditional development concepts of the decision-makers and the management of development, and to enrich their understanding of sustainable development. By the end of 1996 these sustainable development training courses had been conducted in over half of the provinces. Six training workshops were devoted to the implementation of China's Agenda 21 into its social and economic development plans with support of UNDP and UNIDO.

Status

The enrolment rate of school age children in China has increased greatly. The 1996 enrolment rate of school-aged children soared to 98.8%, the enrolment rate of middle-school aged children rose to 82.4%, and the percentage of illiterate and semi-illiterate people dropped from 22.27% in 1990 to 16.48% in 1996.
In the past ten years, China has seen rapid development in vocational education. By 1996, there were 10.1 million students attending various vocational schools of the high-school level, and there were more middle-school graduates attending vocational schools than high-schools. In recent years, more than 50 million people have received vocational technical training each year.
China has established a complete higher education system for both youths and adults. By 1996, there were over 2,170 institutions of higher education (1,032 for youth, 1,138 for adults) with 5.675 million registered students. This was a 52.2% increase from the 3.729 million students registered in 1990.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

The Chinese media has greatly supported training and education for sustainable development. The People's Daily, CCTV, and the Central People's Radio have given broad coverage and introductions to the concept of sustainability and Agenda 21. Beijing TV produced China's Agenda 21 Is Not A Dream (a 30-episode series) and Sustainable Development: A New Start for China. These programs offer a systematic introduction to China's Agenda 21 and the concept of sustainable development. The Central People's Broadcasting Station aired the series The Road of China's Sustainable Development. Recent years have witnessed extensive coverage of environmental protection activities by the media, massive publication of books and periodicals on sustainable development by publishing agencies, and numerous important meetings on sustainability by the Government at all levels. To increase public awareness of natural resources, the environmental situation, recycling, and solid and hazardous waste treatment, the State Economic and Trade Commission, the Environment and Resources Committee of the National People's Congress, and the Publicity Department of CPC's Central Committee co-organised a publicity campaign on the topics of sustainable utilisation of natural resources, promotion of the transformation of economic development growth model from extensive to intensive, and promotion of sustainable development. This activity is of great concern to the entire nation. All of the news agencies were mobilised to promote this campaign and thus increase public awareness on these topics. This campaign will be continuously conducted during the Ninth Five-Year Plan period. Additionally, during the Eighth Five-Year Plan, the State Economic and Trade Commission, the State Planning Commission, the State Science and Technology Commission, and other ministries conducted week-long campaigns on the topic of energy conservation across the whole country every October. The Ministry of Natural Resources organises relevant sectors to hold the World Water Day and China's Water Week every year.

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies  

No information is available

Financing  

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

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This information is based on China's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

For access to the priority programme of China's Agenda 21 "Establishment of China's International Training Centre for Sustainable Development (CITCSD)", click here:
For access to the priority programme of China's Agenda 21"Establishing of the East Asia Centre for Global Change", click here:
For access to the priority programme of China's Agenda 21 "Education for Sustainable Development in China", click here:

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HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Construction is the governmental agency responsible for sustainable development of human settlements.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

China has published and enforced the Law of the People's Republic of China on Municipal Planning, the Administrative Law of the People's Republic of China Concerning Urban Real Estate, the Regulations Governing the Developmental Planning for Villages and Towns, the Regulations on Water Supply in Cities, the Regulations Governing the Appearance and General Sanitation of Cities, the Regulations on Afforestation in Urban Areas, and the Regulations Governing Roads in Urban Areas, so that urban and rural planning, construction, and management systems are regulated by legal mechanisms and the development of urban and rural settlements is ensured.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

From 1990 to 1996, China accelerated its urbanisation process. In 1990, the size of the urban population was 301.91 million, and it increased to 359.50 million by 1996. The urbanisation ratio rose from 26.41% in 1990 to 29.4% in 1996. Compared with the rapid growth of the industrial production and the urban population, the development of infrastructure lags behind. As a result, environmental pollution and insufficient housing are the two major obstacles to sustainable urban development. In light of this, the Chinese Government has listed urban environment control and human settlement construction as major area for development fields.
By the end of 1996, 666 cities and 17,770 towns had drawn up overall municipal or township plans. These plans incorporated items such as protection and improvement of the urban ecological environment, use of land resources in an economic and rational way, and prevention and control of urban pollution. As stated in these plans, the reconstruction of the old quarters and the development of new districts in the cities must be done in line with the requirements that define the functions of certain city quarters. Also included are designs for adjusting the industrial layout, strengthening the prevention and control of industrial pollution, changing the location of factories adjacent to residential buildings, and controlling the urban environment hazards in both industrial production and living consumption. The aim of these plans is the creation of residential districts with reasonable layouts and a complete range of social services.

Starting in 1994, the State Science and Technology Commission, the Ministry of Construction, and other state departments have jointly organised and implemented the Industrial Project of Science and Technology for 'Well-Off' Urban Housing to the Year 2000. The project is designed to accelerate the modernisation of China's housing construction industry by promoting the transfer and application of achievements in housing technology research, improving the functions and quality of buildings, and bettering the housing environment. In parallel with the overall development of scientific and technological research, a series of comprehensive demonstration projects on well-off housing have also been established.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

Since 1989, the quantitative examination system for comprehensive urban environmental control has been advocated nation-wide by the Chinese Government. The central and provincial governments have performed quantitative checks in over 37 key cities and another 330 cities. By 1996, China had delineated an area of 14,085 square kilometres for smoke control and an area of 2,185 square kilometres for noise control. Several rivers that cut through cities have undergone large-scale overall re-embankment and dredging in order to improve the aquatic environment of the urban areas, e.g., Zhongdong River in Hangzhou, Funan River in Chengdu, Haihe River in Tianjin, Suzhou River in Shanghai, Qinhuai River in Nanjing, and Haohe River in Nantong. On the basis of this examination system, the Chinese Government established a number of model cities for environmental protection, such as Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu Province which became a model city in July of 1996.

Status

In 1996, the national daily municipal water supply capacity increased to 185.168 million cubic metres and the tap water supply rate reached 95% of the urban population. In the same year, the centralised treatment rate of urban sewage was 23.62%, non-hazardous treatment rate of garbage and excrement was 49.06%, the municipal gas supply rose to 73.27% of urban households, a 123,000 km-long urban road network (with 7.58 square metres of road surface per urban inhabitant) was constructed, and forest cover of 24.4% (with 5.8 m2 of forest cover per person) was achieved in city districts. Some cities suffering from water shortages have built water diversion channels to ease their water demand problem. The tap water supply has been extended to 32% of the towns and villages, benefiting 318 million people.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies  

Significant research related to sustainable human settlement has been conducted through the National Research Centre for Building Engineering and Technology and with the support of the State Science and Technology Commission. UNDP helped to produce a TV documentary about the achievements in environment and development in Benxi City.

Financing

From 1991 to 1995, there was a total investment of RMB 841.67 billion yuan in the municipal and township housing construction of the nation. New housing totalling 1.033 billion square metres of floor space was completed, thus resolving housing shortages for 5 million households. In 1995, the average per capita dwelling area was 7.9 square metres in urban areas and 16.9 square metres in rural areas. Rural housing has increased by 3.07 billion square metres over the last five years. 1995 was also the first year of the new housing project envisaged by the Chinese Government: 165 pilot cities received a total of RMB 15 billion yuan in loans from the Chinese Government and RMB 22.5 billion yuan from the local authorities (23.771 million m2 have already been built). China has made gratifying achievements in human settlements development, a fact that has been proven by the granting of the UN Human Settlements Award to several Chinese projects: the reconstruction of Tangshan after the earthquake, the building of the new residential quarters in Shenzhen, the rebuilding of the outmoded residential areas at Ju'er (chrysanthemum) Alley in Beijing, and the Combating Difficulty Housing Project in Shanghai.

Cooperation  

No information is available

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This information is based on China's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

For information related to human settlements and refugees, you may access the UNHCR Country Index by clicking here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Increasing Energy Efficiency in Buildings", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Sustainable Development Through Industrial Transformation and Cleaner Production:Benxi City", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Sustainable Development and Enhancement of Women's Status in Hainan Province", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Sustainable Development of A Small Town in the Huai River Flood Plain", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Sustainable Development o of A Model Large City: Shenyang's Shenhe District", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "China's Natural Disaster Management System: Establishment of A National Integrated Assessment, Prevention, and Response Programme", click here:
For access to the Priority Programme of China's Agenda 21 "Establishment of Disaster Prevention And Management Centre in Pudong New Area, Shanghai", click here:


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