III. Boosting Human Rights with Development and Securing Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
In building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, China is committed to boosting human rights with development and securing economic, social, cultural, educational and environmental rights. As a result, its people now lead more prosperous, secure, harmonious and happier lives.
1. Putting Life First in Fighting Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic is the most serious global health emergency in a century. Facing this crisis, China has put the people's interests first – nothing is more precious than people's lives. It has adopted thorough, rigorous and effective prevention and control measures, regardless of huge economic and social costs. It has turned the tide in the battle against the virus and safeguarded people's lives and health.
In the early days of the epidemic, China mobilized the whole nation and carried out a campaign to save lives on an unprecedented scale. It pooled the best doctors, the most advanced equipment, and critical supplies from across the country to aid Hubei Province, especially its capital city of Wuhan.
From January 24 to March 8, 2020, it rallied 346 national medical teams, consisting of 42,600 medical workers and more than 900 public health professionals to the immediate aid of Hubei; it mobilized 40,000 construction workers and a huge array of machinery and equipment to build the 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital in 10 days, the 1,600-bed Leishenshan Hospital in 12 days, and 16 temporary treatment centers providing more than 14,000 beds in just over 10 days. Across Hubei, more than 3,000 patients over the age of 80, including seven centenarians, were cured, with many of them brought back to life from the verge of death. This fully demonstrated that the state respects and protects each and every life.
China did everything possible to treat all patients. The government promptly adopted policies to subsidize medical expenses for Covid-19 to ensure that patients could receive timely treatment and that medical institutions could proceed smoothly with admission and treatment. They proved to be very effective in raising the cure rate and lowering the fatality rate.
China has combined ongoing targeted control and local emergency response, and consolidated the gains in its fight against Covid-19. It is making every effort to vaccinate its people and moving faster to form nationwide immunity.
2. Ensuring Equitable and Accessible Health Services
Prosperity for all is impossible without health for all. China gives top priority to improving its people's health. It is carrying out the Healthy China initiative and has worked out action plans to ensure that basic public health services are inclusive and efficient, and to make health and medical services more equitable, accessible, convenient and affordable.
A basic public health services system is in place. The number of medical and health institutions in China, including hospitals, grassroots medical institutions and specialized public health institutions, increased from 170,000 in 1978 to over 1 million in 2020. A public health services system consisting of various specialized institutions has taken shape, providing disease prevention and control, health education, maternal and child health care, mental health care, emergency response, blood collection and supply, health inspection, and other services.
The range of public health services is expanding. Free basic public health services increased from nine categories in 2010 to 12 categories in 2020, spanning the entire life cycle. The state promotes many preventive services, such as screening for stroke and cardiovascular disease risk, comprehensive oral disease prevention and intervention, and early screening and treatment of cancer. China's capacity to prevent and control chronic illnesses has improved remarkably. Major infectious diseases have been effectively contained. By raising the vaccination rates under the national immunization program, China eradicated polio in 2000 and neonatal tetanus in 2012. It eliminated malaria in 2020 and was awarded a malaria-free certification from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021. The spread of HIV remains at a low level, and the cure rate of tuberculosis is maintained at over 90 percent.
China's medical services system has been improving. The country is committed to building an integrated medical services system of high quality and efficiency and improving the availability and accessibility of medical resources. As a result, public satisfaction with medical services is rising notably.
In 2020, the number of beds in medical institutions across the country reached 9.1 million, including 7.1 million beds in hospitals and 1.4 million in township-level health centers. There were 10.7 million health professionals, including 4.1 million licensed doctors and assistant doctors and 4.7 million registered nurses. That year recorded 7.8 billion medical visits. The rate of prenatal care was 96.8 percent, and the rate of hospital deliveries reached 99.9 percent.
China provides a reasonable distribution of medical resources. It is building a tiered treatment system featuring primary treatment at the community level, flexible inter-hospital patient transfer, differentiated treatment for acute and chronic illnesses, and coordination across different levels. It has put an end to the practice of hospitals subsidizing their medical services with drug sales and established a system of essential medicines. All government-funded medical institutions across the country are supplied with essential medicines, which are guaranteed to meet priority health care needs and sold with zero markup.
Public health indicators are steadily improving. The core health indicators of the Chinese have generally surpassed the average level of middle- and high-income countries. The average life expectancy in China rose from 67.8 years in 1981 to 77.3 years in 2019. Infant mortality declined from 37.6 per 1,000 in the early days of reform and opening up to 5.4 per 1,000 in 2020; and maternal mortality dropped from 43.2 per 100,000 in 2002 to 16.9 per 100,000 in 2020. In recognition of its achievements, China has been hailed by the WHO as a role model for developing countries and a fast-track country in improving maternal and child health.
The Law on the Promotion of Basic Medical and Health Care has been adopted and implemented, providing a legal guarantee for comprehensive health care for the full life cycle and for the Healthy China initiative. With steady social and economic improvement, the state devotes itself to helping citizens develop healthy lifestyles. A social atmosphere has taken shape where both urban and rural residents do regular exercise in their spare time and pay attention to a healthy diet.
3. Upgrading the Quality of Life
Incomes continue to rise. For four decades, China's economy has been growing steadily. From 1978 to 2020, the country's per capita GDP increased from RMB385 to RMB72,000. In 2020, the average per capita disposable income was RMB32,189. Consumption patterns are improving. In 2020, the Engel coefficient was 30.2 percent, down 33.7 percentage points from 1978. Housing conditions have improved markedly. In 2019, the per capita floor space of urban residents was 39.8 sq m, up from 4.2 sq m in 1978, and that of rural residents was 48.9 sq m, up from 8.1 sq m in 1978. Urban park green space per capita increased from 1.5 sq m in 1981 to 14.36 sq m in 2019. Construction projects have been launched to provide affordable housing to urban residents, helping nearly 200 million poor people improve their housing conditions.
China's transport infrastructure network has been improving steadily, resulting in more convenient and safer public transport. By the end of 2020, the country's rail length had grown to 146,000 km, and high-speed rail had reached 38,000 km; road length had increased to 5.2 million km, including 161,000 km of expressways; urban rail transit had reached 7,355 km.
The availability of IT applications has improved greatly. The Chinese government makes great efforts to develop new types of infrastructure to ensure that the people benefit more from the use of information technology. In 2020, every 100 people had 113.9 mobile phones; internet usage was 70.4 percent nationwide and 55.9 percent in rural areas. By June 2021, 847,000 5G base stations had been built and put into operation across the country. New business forms represented by online shopping are thriving. In 2020, there were 782 million online shoppers, accounting for 79.1 percent of all internet users, and nationwide online retail sales reached RMB11.8 trillion, up 10.9 percent from 2019.