Archive for the Universal Health Care Category

Commentary: “Mass line” campaign key to consolidate CPC’s ruling status [Xinhua]

Posted in China, Corruption, CPC, Education, Universal Health Care on June 28, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Xinhua Writer Meng Na

BEIJING, June 18 (Xinhua) — About two weeks prior to the 92nd anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the world’s biggest ruling Party has reaffirmed its “mass line” — an important guideline defining Party-people relations.

Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said Tuesday that the Party’s upcoming year-long campaign will be a “thorough cleanup” of undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance.

The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee decided at a conference in April to launch the campaign to boost ties between Party members and the public from the latter half of this year.

The move will focus on officials at or above county level, who are required to reflect on their own practices and correct any misbehavior.

“Winning or losing public support is an issue that concerns the CPC’s survival or extinction,” Xi stressed.

The mass line requires the Party to give top priority to the interests of the people, share weal and woe with them, maintain the closest possible ties with them and persist in exercising power for them, showing concern for them and working for their interests.

It also means that the CPC does everything for the people, relies on people in every task and carries out the principle of “from the masses, to the masses.”

The Constitution of the CPC says that “the Party has no special interests of its own apart from the interests of the working class and the broadest masses of the people.”

Over the past decades, China has grown to be the world’s second largest economy with hundreds of millions of individuals’ lives being improved.

During the period, China exempted agricultural tax, has provided free nine-year compulsory education and has established a basic medical care system that nearly covers the whole nation, all of which, among others, contribute to the solid Party-people relations.

However, not all the issues could be resolved through economic development. In the era of informatization, democratization and globalization, it becomes much more difficult for the Party to coordinate people’s diversified interest.

Moreover, a slew of Party members and officials do not care about people’s weal and woe, testing their relations with people.

Corruption still exists. Former railways minister Liu Zhijun stood trial in Beijing earlier this month on charges of bribery and abuse of power.

Several senior officials have been investigated, such as Liu Tienan, former deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, and Li Chuncheng, former vice-secretary of the CPC committee of southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

As the Party Constitution says, the biggest political advantage of the Party lies in its close ties with the masses while the biggest potential danger for it as a governing party comes from its divorce from them.

It is high time for the CPC to launch an education campaign in which Party members are required to “watch from the mirror, groom oneself, take a bath and seek remedies,” or in brief, to reflect on their own practices and correct any misbehavior.

Editor: Lu Hui

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The struggle in China: Capitalist crisis versus planning [Workers World]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Corruption, CPC, Deng Xiaoping, Economy, Hong Kong, Income gap, Marx, Reform and opening up, Social Security system, south Korea, Taiwan, Transportation, Universal Health Care on March 30, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Fred Goldstein
Published Mar 27, 2012 11:42 PM

The following is Part 2 of a series on the leadership struggle in China.

As contradictions mount in the global capitalist economy, they are reflected in China. The factional struggle in the Chinese leadership can only be understood as a struggle over which way to go forward and how to contain and resolve the mounting economic and social contradictions arising out of capitalist development.

The Chinese economy has been growing on a dual basis. First, it is based on centrally planned guidance designed to develop the productive forces and the material foundations for a society encompassing 1.3 billion people. However, since the victory of Deng Xiaoping and the “capitalist road” faction in 1978, planning has been increasingly based on the central government fostering and attempting to manage capitalism and the capitalist market as the means for national development.

The central government, through control of interest rates, credit, taxation and vast state-owned enterprises, both guides the economy toward broad economic and social goals and fosters capitalist development. The latter means class exploitation, inequality and corruption. The present political struggle is over which side of this contradiction to strengthen.

This complex subject will be discussed at length in subsequent articles. But suffice it to say that the so-called “reform” groupings in China — with the enthusiastic support of world imperialism and global finance capital — want to move away from state intervention, planning and central guidance and go further toward turning the fate of China over to the capitalist market, both internally and externally.

In our last article we covered the fact that Bo Xilai was summarily ousted from his post as Chinese Communist Party Secretary of Chongqing. This was a blow against the growing forces in the CCP and throughout China who want to combine the use of the capitalist market with social and economic planning and state intervention in order to deal with growing inequality and who emphasize the needs of the masses. In Bo’s case, this economic orientation was combined with a popular attempt to revive Maoist culture and socialist values.

In China today, the concept of planned guidance of the broad direction of the economy and its various sectors is a drastic modification from the direct economic planning initiated after the triumph of the great Chinese Revolution in 1949. At the same time, it is an attempt to retain the planning principle as the fundamental framework guiding the overall development of the Chinese economy.

Consider just some of the goals and objectives outlined by the 12th Five Year Plan for 2011-2015, and the antagonism between planning and the anarchy of the capitalist market becomes utterly transparent. This plan was developed beginning in October 2010 and was approved by the National People’s Congress in March 2011.

The government is planning to devote 4 trillion renminbi ($158.7 billion) to the development of seven Strategic Emerging Industries: biotechnology, new energy, high-end manufacturing equipment, energy conservation and environmental protection, clean-energy vehicles and next-generation internet technology. (APCO worldwide, Dec. 10, 2010)

An article in the March 4, 2011, New York Times detailed the plan’s goals, including:

* A 19.1 percent cut in the amount of energy used per unit of economic growth and a rapid expansion of the service economy.

* Building a national nanotechnology research center, 50 engineering centers, 32 national engineering laboratories and 56 other labs focusing on technologies like digital television and high-speed internet.

* Laying 621,000 miles of new fiber-optic cable and adding 35 million new broadband ports for a total of 223 million.

* A cap on total energy use, especially limiting the burning of coal.

* The development of well-equipped statistical and monitoring systems to gauge greenhouse gas emissions.

* Accelerated construction of sewage treatment plants, the retrofitting of coal-fired power plants with pollution controls, and the continuation of a pilot project to develop low-carbon cities.

In the previous period the state had opened 3,100 miles of new railroads and 74,600 miles of highways, completed 230,000 sports and fitness projects for rural residents, and built or renovated 891 hospitals and 1,228 health clinics.

In the realm of social welfare, the broad goals are to increase consumption from 35 percent of the gross domestic product to between 50 percent and 55 percent by increasing minimum wages, health care services and social welfare payments of various kinds.

Of course, it goes without saying that under a genuinely socialist government, workers would have their fundamental economic rights guaranteed as political rights. But those rights were largely overturned by the reforms that developed in China after 1978. Instead, in the environment of the capitalist market — with its mountains of corruption of government and party officials — the welfare of the workers and peasants has to be built up slowly and painfully through an uphill battle, which happens only through the intervention of the state. (More on this in future articles.)

Whether or not the government achieves the precise goals set out is not the issue. The point is that such sweeping social and economic goals could not possibly be handed over to profit-driven capitalists and the anarchy of the commodity market. The bosses would seek the highest rate of profit. They would never voluntarily raise wages, improve working conditions, build hospitals, clinics, rural fitness centers or anything that did not bring a profit.

– China’s response to 2008-09 world capitalist crisis –

To grasp the seriousness of the proposals to further limit planning and intervention by the state, it is only necessary to consider what happened during the world capitalist financial and economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, when the global crisis of capitalist overproduction and the financial collapse invaded China.

More than 20 million workers lost their jobs, mainly in manufacturing and predominantly in coastal provinces such as Guangdong, where special economic zones had been set up so imperialist corporations, companies from Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea, and other exploiters could take advantage of low-wage migrant labor flooding in from the rural interior.

During this period production of world capitalism dropped more than it had in 70 years. Tens of millions of workers worldwide were thrown onto unemployment lines. Most of them are still there. Bankruptcy followed bankruptcy, and the capitalist system has still not recovered.

What happened in China? When the crisis hit, China’s central planners went into motion. Plans drafted as far back as 2003 to go into effect in future years were pushed forward and implemented.

Nicholas Lardy, a bourgeois China expert from the prestigious Peterson Institute for International Economics, describes how consumption in China actually grew during the crisis of 2008-09, wages went up, and the government created enough jobs to compensate for the layoffs caused by the global crisis:

“In a year in which GDP expansion [in China] was the slowest in almost a decade, how could consumption growth in 2009 have been so strong in relative terms? How could this happen at a time when employment in export-oriented industries was collapsing, with a survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture reporting the loss of 20 million jobs in export manufacturing centers along the southeast coast, notably in Guangdong Province? The relatively strong growth of consumption in 2009 is explained by several factors. First, the boom in investment, particularly in construction activities, appears to have generated additional employment sufficient to offset a very large portion of the job losses in the export sector. For the year as a whole the Chinese economy created 11.02 million jobs in urban areas, very nearly matching the 11.13 million urban jobs created in 2008.

“Second, while the growth of employment slowed slightly, wages continued to rise. In nominal terms wages in the formal sector rose 12 percent, a few percentage points below the average of the previous five years (National Bureau of Statistics of China 2010f, 131). In real terms the increase was almost 13 percent. Third, the government continued its programs of increasing payments to those drawing pensions and raising transfer payments to China’s lowest-income residents. Monthly pension payments for enterprise retirees increased by RMB120, or 10 percent, in January 2009, substantially more than the 5.9 percent increase in consumer prices in 2008. This raised the total payments to retirees by about RMB75 billion. The Ministry of Civil Affairs raised transfer payments to about 70 million of China’s lowest-income citizens by a third, for an increase of RMB20 billion in 2009 (Ministry of Civil Affairs 2010).” (“Sustaining China’s Economic Growth after the Global Financial Crisis,” Kindle Locations 664-666, Peterson Institute for International Economics)

The Ministry of Railroads introduced eight specific plans, to be completed in 2020, to be implemented in the crisis. The World Bank called it “perhaps the biggest single planned program of passenger rail investment there has ever been in one country.” In addition, ultra-high-voltage grid projects were undertaken, among other advances.

The lesson is that while the anarchy of production of world capitalism invaded China, the rational and meticulously developed plans drawn up for social use overcame the anarchy of the capitalist market. This not only protected the masses from a protracted, massive unemployment crisis, but it actually continued the process of raising the standard of living during a time when hundreds of millions of workers throughout the entire capitalist world were left helpless and traumatized by the crisis of capitalist overproduction.

In Marxist terms the principle of planning, established by the Chinese socialist revolution of 1949 — even though it has been watered down to the practice of “guidance” — overcame what Marx called the law of labor value, the very law that governs the operation of capitalism itself. The Chinese leaders were compelled, and had the capability, to use rational planning based on satisfying human need to overcome the disaster brought about by their own policy of relying on the world capitalist market.

To be continued.

Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” (2008) and “Capitalism at a Dead End” (2012) published by World View Forum. Both books as well as his articles and speeches can be found at
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Chinese vice president urges more care for retired cadres [People’s Daily / CPC News]

Posted in China, CPC, CPC Central Committee (CPCCC), Social Security system, Universal Health Care on September 29, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Sept. 16, 2011

Vice President Xi Jinping has called on Party and government departments at all levels to offer more respect and care for the country’s retired cadres.

Xi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks Thursday at a meeting to honor outstanding individuals and groups working in retired cadres affairs.

“Retired cadres had made historic contributions to our country in various stages including the revolution, construction and reformation periods, and we should respect and care for them as the treasures of the Party and learn from their fine traditions and working styles,” said Xi.

Xi pledged to improve the policies concerning retired cadres’ pensions, medical insurance and their political status in order to ensure a “peaceful and happy” life for them.

In addition, Xi expressed the hope that retired cadres could make further contributions in their late years by spreading their knowledge and creating a good image for newcomers.

Source: Xinhua

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China eyes 7-pct annual growth, focusing on living standards [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Economy, Education, Environmental protection, Housing, Income gap, Premier Wen Jiabao, Scientific Outlook on Development, Universal Health Care on March 4, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

February 28, 2011

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) holds an online chat with Internet users at two state news portals in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 27, 2011. The two portals, namely of the central government and of the Xinhua News Agency, jointly interviewed Premier Wen on Sunday with questions raised by netizens. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)

China’s government will set its annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for the 2011-2015 period at 7 percent, and make the improvement of living standards a fundamental aim.

Premier Wen Jiabao, in an on-line chat with the public Sunday, said the GDP target for the 12th Five-Year Program period (2011-2015) was lower than the 7.5 percent target for the 11th Five-Year Program period (2006-2010), when China’s economy grew at an actual annual rate of about 10 percent.

"We’ll never seek a high economic growth rate and size at the price of the environment, as that would result in unsustainable growth with industrial overcapacity and intensive resource consumption," Wen said.

His chat on the websites of the central government ( and Xinhua News Agency ( came six days before the opening of the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature.

The central government would adopt new performance evaluation criteria for local governments and give more weight to efficiency, environment protection and living standards, said Wen.

"We should change the criteria for evaluating officials’ work.  The supreme criterion for assessing their performance is whether the people feel happy and satisfied, rather than skyscrapers," the premier noted.

Netizens raised about 400,000 questions for Wen. He answered about 20 during the two-hour session, during which he said the government would strive to continue to raise pensions, make medical services accessible to every citizen, build more high-quality rural schools, and ensure fair income distribution.

He vowed that "every citizen should share the fruits of the reform and opening up drive."

Wen also revealed the aim to reduce China’s energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16 to 17 percent by 2015 from the current level.

Analysts said Wen’s comments highlighted the government’s resolution to implement the "Scientific Outlook on Development" in the 12th Five-Year Program period.

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China to fight toughest battle to reform health care system: vice premier [People’s Daily / CPC News]

Posted in China, CPC, CPC Central Committee (CPCCC), Universal Health Care on February 21, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

February 17, 2011
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang said the country would fight the toughest battle to reform the health care system in 2011, as he called for practical measures towards accomplishing the reform.

Li made the remarks while addressing a national meeting on deepening China’s reform of health care system on Tuesday, according to an official statement sent to Xinhua on Wednesday.

Citing the reform as a key project that involves public interests, Li called for efforts to ensure the people’s universal access to basic medical insurance and basic health care services.

Li added that China would largely raise the level of government subsidies for medical insurance schemes in both rural and urban areas and increase government spending on public health care services this year.

Efforts would be made to let insured people get a higher ratio of reimbursement for their inpatient medical treatments as well as for their outpatient medical treatments for severe diseases, Li said.

He added that the basic medicine system, which aims to ensure affordable access to crucial drugs for patients, should be implemented across government-run grassroots hospitals and clinics in 2011.

Furthermore, Li said that comprehensive reforms including the separation of medical treatment services and medicine sales would be initiated in government-run hospitals in 16 cities this year.

Source: Xinhua

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Ministers taken to task over China’s healthcare reforms [People’s Daily]

Posted in Beijing, China, Reform and opening up, Universal Health Care on January 1, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

December 25, 2010

China’s top health officials were grilled on Friday over why the ongoing healthcare reform has failed to substantially ease the difficulties facing the public in seeking accessible and affordable medical care.

Given that State-owned hospitals now deliver more than 90 percent of medical services in the country, harsh questions focusing on reform of public hospitals abounded while the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) conducted an inquiry into the medical reform.

For instance, an appointment with an expert pediatrician alone costs 1,200 yuan ($180) at a top public hospital in Beijing and together with a bill for medical treatment could amount to 10,000 yuan for a single day, said Cheng Jinpei, a member of the NPC Standing Committee. And he asked why.

“The problem of difficult access to affordable medical care for people has existed for a long time, particularly at quality public hospitals, and I’ve also experienced that personally,” Vice-Minister of Health Zhang Mao admitted at the inquiry.

Imbalanced distribution of quality medical resources and the current operating mechanism were mainly to blame, according to him.

Currently, about 42 percent of the country’s doctors have bachelor or higher degrees, but more than 80 percent work at large public hospitals in cities, official statistics showed.

As a result, patients – including those with minor diseases – swarm into public hospitals for experienced doctors and quality treatment, further straining such hospitals, usually beyond their operating capacity.

In Beijing, for instance, about 70 million patients from other parts of the country visit big local hospitals as they have little confidence in community and rural clinics.

To address that, the central government last year unveiled a three-year plan costing 850 billion yuan for medical reforms, including the reform of public hospitals, which aims to give universal and affordable medical service to all of the country.

“China appears to be determined to use its wealth obtained largely in the past three decades to extend basic healthcare service to all,” said Liu Guo’en, an expert in health policy in Beijing.

As part of the public hospital reform now under a trial run at 47 cities selected by the ministry, optimizing the hospital’s structure and training more quality doctors for grassroots clinics are high on the agenda, said Zhang.

In 2009, the central government allocated 20 billion yuan to build 5,700 hospitals at the grassroots level.

Meanwhile, 980,000 grassroots doctors were trained by May thanks to the aid program held by large public hospitals.

Health Minister Chen Zhu also conceded on Friday that the reform of public hospitals was the hardest part of the entire medical reform.

“It couldn’t be achieved overnight,” he said.

Key problems like the widely criticized practice that public hospitals rely on drug sales for income and a lack of a sustainable funding mechanism remain hard to be tackled as they concern interests of many stakeholders, Chen noted.

But he pledged that public hospitals have to return to serving the public good.

Before 1985, public hospitals on the mainland were fully funded by the government. Under the reform and opening-up policies, with huge cutbacks in government support, they shifted to a market orientation and had to earn most of the money needed to stay in operation.

The change enhanced the efficiency of the medical sector but led directly to increasing medical costs in the country, analysts said.

“The current reforms would improve ethics of medical workers and facilitate them to earn honest money,” Zhang said.

By Shan Juan, China Daily

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China invests heavily in building basic medical insurance system [Xinhua]

Posted in China, CPC, Universal Health Care on December 31, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

December 25, 2010

BEIJING, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) — China’s health care reform funds – 850 billion yuan (126 billion U.S. dollars) over three years – were mainly used to build a basic medical insurance system for urban and rural residents, said Minister of Finance Xie Xuren Friday.

Xie made the remarks at the 18th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC), a bimonthly session that began Dec. 20 and will end Dec. 25.

The government in April 2009 unveiled a 850 billion yuan three-year plan for national health care reform.

With the funds, the government promised universal access to basic health insurance, the introduction of an essential drugs system, improved primary health care facilities, equitable access to basic public health services and a pilot reforms for state-run hospitals.

Xie reported that in 2009, the government spent 399.4 billion yuan on health care, with 64.5 billion yuan on the medical insurance system, 24.6 billion yuan on public health services and 21.7 billion yuan on grassroots medical institutions in rural townships and small urban communities.

This year’s medical and health budget was 443.9 billion yuan, Xie said.

By the end of last month, 55.6 billion yuan had been spent on the medical insurance system and 31.6 billion yuan on grass-roots medical institutions, according to statistics from the Ministry of Finance.

Xie said the central government will enhance health care reform, strengthen monitoring on the funds’ disbursement, and supervise local governments allocation of funds.

“We will fulfil the 850 billion yuan plan,” he said.

Thanks to the country’s financial support, some 1.26 billion Chinese are covered by the basic medical insurance system, with 424 millon of them in cities and towns and 835 million in rural areas.

Under the medical insurance system, governments in urban and rural areas this year paid no less than 120 yuan per person per year in subsidies, with about 60 to 75 percent of inpatient medical expenses being reimbursed.

According to Vice Minister of Health Zhang Mao, improving the medical insurance system and decreasing the cost of individuals’ medical treatment helps ensure affordable health services for all people.

Regarding the increased cost of health care, Zhang urged state-run hospitals to seek less profit and stop over-treating.

To make the payment of medical expenses convenient, the government is promoting the use of a one-card system, to allow patients to be reimbursed as soon as possible, Hu Xiaoyi, vice minister for human resources and social security, told lawmakers.

According to Hu, more than 800 million cards will be issued during the next five-year program (2011-2015).

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