中文 | CONTACT US
You are here: Home Page >> Counsellors' News >> Text

“Two Sessions” in the Eyes of Counselors of State Council (2)

Source: Wen Wei Po Date: 2018-03-14
Establish an Old-age Service System with the Rare Opportunity Offered by the 13th Five-Year Plan

Ma Li
Counselor of the State Council and Former Director of the China Population and Development Research Center

The 2018 Report on the Work of the Government fully bespeaks the spirit of the 19th CPC Congress. It elaborates more on work regarding people’s livelihood and lays out specific requirements and arrangements for issues people are concerned about, such as employment, poverty reduction, income, education, medical care, housing and social security. This demonstrates the shift of focus on the part of this government in light of the change in principal contradictions of the society towards always meeting people’s demand for a better life.

The old-age care system in China has two major difficulties: service and insurance for the aged. By the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan period, the number of people above 60 years old will be 243 million and will average an explosive annual growth of 8-10 million. By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period, this population will rocket to 300 million. Therefore, it is urgent to build an old-age service system with full coverage, wide participation and universal recognition.

First, community should be identified as the main entity for basic public service. Survey shows that nearly 95% of the elderly incline to receive care at home. To make home care the mainstay of old-age care, community old-age care institutions must be established to provide daily service to the elderly, that is, the elderly receive day care or home care by the community and are taken over by their children at night. The “Internet Plus” intelligent home-and-community old-age service model should be established to facilitate the mechanism of joint care by the community and the family.

Community-based old-age care belongs to basic public service and, therefore, the responsibility lies with the government. It should play its leading role in home and community-based old-age service by giving guidance about fund allocation and tasking local governments to provide funds and initiate policy innovation. On the one hand, construction of community/village old-age service facilities and recreational sites need to be sped up. These development plans should be incorporated in the planning of fiscal budgets, land and ancillary facilities of communities/villages. The land should be supplied in the manner of government allocation, and idle resources should be consolidated via such means as purchase, replacement and lease in cities and improvement of facilities of elderly homes and rural clinics in the countryside. On the other hand, as community/village old-age service institutions are public welfare and non-profit organizations, it is necessary to introduce social capital and models such as construction by the government and management by the private sector, purchase service, PPP model and fund investment. Social organizations, enterprises and other entities can be entrusted with operation of government-owned old-age service facilities, and government-invested nursing homes, elderly homes and other institutions can provide extended service with support of housing and operation subsidies to ensure that the elderly of each and every family enjoy the most basic public service.

Second, old-age care institutions mainly provide service to the disabled, half disabled and people of advanced ages. Compared to communities that offer basic services, old-age care institutions are more professional in terms of facilities and services and charge more. At present, there are 37 million disabled and half disabled elderly people and 24 million people of advanced ages in China. Yet, the average family consists of only three people, which means the traditional mode of home care will hardly sustain, because these 60 million elderly people are in urgent need of professional nursing. Therefore, government-endorsed or subsidized institutions should be vigorously promoted to take over the disabled, half disabled and people of advanced ages.

The government work report this year mentions the lifting of control over the old-age service market. While it earnestly fulfills its responsibility of providing basic public services, the government needs to let the market play its role in offering non-basic public services by setting up platforms, purchasing services, transferring management of publicly-owned old-age care institutions to the private sector, supporting privately-owned old-age care institutions, and engaging in equity cooperation, etc. The government needs also implement access, finance, taxation, land and other preferential policies to create flagship organizations and enterprises of brand names, offshoots and scale effect, so as to make the private sector the main provider of institution-based old-age service.

As to issues that have attracted wide attention such as high-price old-age service and commercial development of old-age care institutions by real estate developers, the government need to strengthen its regulation, adhere to separate management of profit and non-profit entities to ensure that subsidies and preferential policies are utilized by the community and non-profit organizations to the true benefit of the people.

Third, long-term care and insurance system holds the key to the development of old-age service system, and the main task is to solve the problem of high nursing costs borne by the disabled, half disabled and people of advanced ages. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, it is imperative to build a long-term care and insurance system, introduce policies on mandatory payment of pensions for people aged above 40, and establish a system whereby pension is drawn in proportion to the level of care one receives. This way, fiscal and family burdens can be greatly relieved and costs of old-age service institutions reduced, the elderly are truly safeguarded, and the public is mobilized. This is the fundamental solution to accelerated development of the old-age service system.

In the meantime, the five systems of social security need to be changed into the three systems of pension, health and long-term care insurance. Medical, fertility and work-related injury insurance can be consolidated into health insurance, unemployment insurance and minimum subsistence allowances can be merged to serve their original purposes of assistance, so that payments by individuals, enterprises and the government are minimized.

Fourth, innovative thinking and models need to be explored for the approach of combining medical treatment with daily care. The old concept that building an elderly home beside a hospital equals to combining medical treatment with daily care should be changed. Hospitals mainly treat acute and complex diseases, while the elderly generally suffer from chronic and common diseases whom hospitals fail to provide professional care for. Therefore, the right approach to combining medical treatment with daily care is, on the one hand, to establish a series of elderly hospitals, such as community hospitals, traditional Chinese medicine hospitals, rehabilitation centers and hospice care centers to enable rehabilitation of the elderly in the community after receiving medical treatment and rehabilitation training in the hospital; and, on the other hand, to integrate community medical and old-age care resources so that the elderly can receive routine care, fitness care, diagnosis and treatment, rehabilitation, nursing and other convenient, fast and appropriate medical and health services at home or through the community.
Fifth, old-age care professionals should be fostered with exceptionally great efforts. Stark shortage of human resources represents another major difficulty that seems insurmountable in the development of the old-age service system. Currently, China has 220 thousand nursing practitioners, among whom only 20 thousand hold qualifications, which falls short of the demand of 10 million. Elderly hospitals and other old-age service providers call for professionals such as geriatric doctors, family doctors, nurses, nursing assistants as well as housekeeping and other service organizations and personnel. Therefore, it is imperative to draw a training program for old-age care professionals and improve efficiency of input. In addition to training more general practitioners to meet the shortage and combining such need with the employment need of university graduates, on-the-job training of general practitioners who have transferred from the posts of resident doctors need to be strengthened, and the system of region-wise electronic registration of physicians need to be implemented. Greater attention should be given to rural vocational education and training of migrant workers and people who meet the requirements for the “4050 policy” (i.e., males aged 50 or above and females aged 40 or above who are floating employees without an employer to pay for one’s social insurance may apply for social insurance issued by the state) in order to enlarge the team of old-age care professionals within a short time.


Meeting Shortage of Infrastructure and Public Service Is an Integral Part of Poverty Reduction Through Development of Agricultural Industry

Li Wu
Counselor of the State Council, Member of the 13th CPPCC National Committee and Research Fellow with the Vegetable Research Center of the Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences

Since the 18th CPC Congress, the State Council, in accordance with the unified deployment of the CPC Central Committee, has made a host of specific arrangements for the implementation of the “five means for targeted poverty reduction” (namely, poverty reduction through production, relocation, ecological subsidies, education and social security). Significant achievements have been made in China’s poverty reduction with substantial drop in poor population. In the past five years, poor population in rural areas have decreased by 68.5 million in accumulative terms, a reduction of over 13 million per year on average. Such achievements have been recognized and acclaimed at home and abroad. China has a large number of poor population, and regions in extreme poverty take a large share. At present, work on poverty reduction has entered a critical stage. In his report made at the 19th CPC Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping marked that “We will resolutely win the battle against poverty. Seeing that poor people and poor areas will enter the moderately prosperous society together with the rest of the country is a solemn promise made by our Party. We should mobilize the energies of our whole Party, our whole country, and our whole society, and continue to implement targeted poverty reduction and alleviation measures. We will operate on the basis of a working mechanism whereby the central government makes overall plans, provincial-level governments take overall responsibility, and city and county governments ensure implementation; and we will strengthen the system for making heads of Party committees and governments at each level assume the overall responsibility for poverty alleviation. We will continue to advance poverty reduction drawing on the joint efforts of government, society, and the market. We will pay particular attention to helping people increase confidence in their own ability to lift themselves out of poverty and see that they can access the education they need to do so. We will strengthen collaboration on poverty alleviation between the eastern and western regions; and we will provide focused assistance to areas of extreme poverty. We must ensure that by the year 2020, all rural residents living below the current poverty line have been lifted out of poverty, and poverty is eliminated in all poor counties and regions. Poverty alleviation should reach those who truly need it and deliver genuine outcomes”.

In his Report on the Work of the Government made at the first meeting of the 13th National People’s Congress on 5 March, Premier Li Keqiang pointed out that “More efforts should be devoted to targeted poverty reduction. Rural poor population will be further cut by over 10 million and 2.8 million people will be relocated from inhospitable areas this year. Poverty reduction through industrial, educational, health and ecological means should be advanced, and shortage of infrastructure and public service should be met to boost indigenous impetus of poverty reduction”. Poverty reduction through development of agricultural industry is one major means of the “five means for targeted poverty reduction”. In their work on poverty reduction, local governments and all departments should first consider boosting development of agricultural industry that suits local conditions. In this respect, many best practices have been accumulated by different localities. However, when it comes to identifying projects of poverty reduction through agricultural industry, some localities are less conscientious in their survey and analysis of the market to which products of the aforementioned projects are to be sold. As a result, some profitable economic crops are overproduced too fast and crowed into the market all at the same time, and therefore sell poorly and become overstocked. And when it comes to project planning, some localities fail to incorporate into the overall plan commercialization and processing of products as well as installment of storage equipment and facilities. As a result, those agricultural industrial projects disconnect with the secondary and tertiary industries and prove not as effective in poverty reduction.

One holds that in order to sufficiently utilize poverty reduction funds, ensure targeted poverty reduction and alleviation, and sustain the effects of poverty reduction projects, we should pay attention to the following aspects when choosing agricultural industrial projects of specialist livestock and poultry, fruits, vegetables, flowers, Chinese herbal medicine, etc.

First, we should make thorough investigation and analysis of the market prospects of products and avoid blind development for the short-term goal of poverty alleviation, which would only result in the waste of poverty reduction funds.

Second, commercialization, processing and storage of agricultural products should be an important part of the overall development plan for agricultural industrial projects. Basic facilities and equipment for precooling, storage, preservation, drying, cleaning, grading and packaging should be supplied. Agricultural products should be commercialized through post-production treatment to extend their industrial chain and available time, so as to magnify the overall effect of poverty reduction projects.

Third, for leading producing areas where produce abounds, flagship agricultural industrial enterprises with brand, strength and market potential can be introduced to launch projects of intensive processing of agricultural products and processing of green agricultural products and, by means of modern food processing technology, produce modern food that meet the general and upgraded demand of consumers.

Fourth, product sales should be factored into the planning of poverty reduction through agricultural industrial projects. The government should create favorable conditions and environment for circulation of agricultural products for farmers, large entities of farming and animal husbandry, and enterprises of produce processing and sales and ensure that agricultural products and processed products find their way to the market through the Internet and e-commerce platforms, so that these products are not only of high quality, but also marketable and profitable.



Adhere to Agricultural Development Featuring Quality, Eco-Friendliness and Brand Effect and Advance the Rural Vitalization Strategy in Full Swing

Zhang Yuxiang
Guest Research Fellow with the Office of State Counselors and Former Chief Economist of the Ministry of Agriculture

For the first time ever, the report of the 19th CPC Congress put forward the “rural vitalization strategy” and specified the general requirements of building rural areas with thriving businesses, pleasant living environments, social etiquette and civility, effective governance and prosperity. And concrete deployments were laid out in the No. 1 Document of the CPC Central Committee disclosed recently. In his Report on the Work of the Government made at the first meeting of the 13th National People’s Congress on 5 March, Premier Li Keqiang stressed once again that the rural vitalization strategy should be vigorously implemented and that new dynamic of rural development should be brought out through reform and innovation. Given the change in principal contradictions of the Chinese society, transition of the Chinese economy towards high-quality development, and the current features of agricultural and rural development in China, the key to implementation of this strategy is industrial prosperity. To develop high-quality agriculture, promoting quality, green and brand products lies at the core, and quality and efficiency of the agricultural supply system need to be enhanced.

To develop agriculture of quality, eco-friendliness and brand effect, we should transform the agricultural development mode and actively establish modern agricultural industrial, production and operation systems. Agricultural development should aim at producing more quality, green and brand products, and agricultural reform featuring greater quality, efficiency and impetus need to be furthered. To be specific, we must make efforts in the following respects, namely, restructuring, optimization of ecological environment and mechanisms, as well as stronger awareness of brand effect, training of main entities and scientific and technological support.

First, restructuring. We should shift the focus of agricultural development from output to quality, and supply-side structural reform of agriculture should be the centerpiece. While ensuring national food security, we should accelerate agricultural restructuring with market as the signpost, farmers as the main actors, and establishment of an agricultural production pattern proportional to the carrying capacity of resources and environment as the goal. With adjustment and optimization of quality as the starting point, we should increase supply of high-quality green produce to meet the upgraded demand for agricultural products. While achieving rational distribution of productivity by restructuring agricultural production across regions in accordance with their respective endowments, we should also restructure and optimize grain economy to ensure rice and wheat production, adjust corn production, stabilize cotton, oil and sugar production, and expand production of soybeans and other grain. While restructuring and optimizing the proportion of planting and breeding in agricultural development and promoting balanced planting of grain and grass, integration of farming and animal husbandry, as well as circular development, we should also adjust and optimize industrial structure to achieve the goal of developing primary industry of strength, secondary industry of quality and tertiary industry of flexibility as well as integrated development of the three industries.

Second, optimization of ecological environment and mechanisms.
Optimization of ecological environment. According to the requirements for high-quality agricultural development and with sound ecological environment as the objective, we should implement the system of compartmentalizing farmland according to its function, promote the mode of green production, and execute measures, namely, controlling aggregate use of agricultural water, reducing the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticide, as well as dealing with such problems as pollution from livestock and poultry, mulch film recycling and straw burning. We should step up monitoring and restoration of polluted soil, expand the scale of crop rotation and fallow land, accelerate prevention and control of water pollution, and promote treatment of livestock and poultry feces and comprehensive utilization of straw, in order to tackle non-point source pollution and remove resources and environment constraints. We should improve rural living environment for the goal of building beautiful and comfortable countryside and steer agricultural and rural development towards “green, eco-friendly and sustainable development that meets people’s demand for higher living quality”.

Optimization of mechanisms. We should establish and improve the system, mechanisms and policies for developing agriculture of quality, eco-friendliness and brand effect. Reform of the land system should be deepened via orderly transfer of management rights, while ensuring collective ownership of rural land and contractual rights of farmers. In light of the needs of modern agricultural development, we should make an effort in building an all-dimensional compound modern agricultural management system featuring management by rural households as the basis, cooperation and union as the bond, and social services as the support. We should integrate urban and rural development, improve the support and protection system of agricultural products, push forward reform of the produce storage system and the price formation mechanism, so as to give price a decisive role in the allocation of agricultural resources.

Third, strengthen awareness of brand effect, training of main entities, and scientific and technological support.

Strengthen awareness of brand effect. We should implement the strategy of developing agriculture of quality. On the basis of standardization, we should improve environment of production areas and better standardize ecological process, exercise strict supervision of agricultural inputs, improve the standardization system of produce quality and food safety, and facilitate integrated agricultural development featuring eco-friendliness, quality, characteristics and brand effect. We should actively develop pollution-free, green and organic agricultural products with geographical identifications as well as public brands for agricultural products from the same region. We should also promote establishment of the “five areas and one park” (namely, the state modern agricultural demonstration area, the grain production functional area, the protection area for major agricultural products, the leading production area for specialist agricultural products, the pilot and demonstration area for sustainable agricultural development, and the modern agricultural industrial park). We need to draw enterprises’ attention to creating brand names and improving quality and brand effect of products. We should establish and improve platforms for promoting agricultural brands, strengthen connection between production and marketing, and advance establishment of a traceability system for produce quality and safety. Brand advertisement and promotion activities can be carried out in various ways to popularize the brand.

Strengthen training of main entities. We should give full play to the leading role of new agricultural business entities, upgrade scale management, improve benefit sharing mechanisms, and raise the entities’ capacity. We should step up support for the new agricultural business entities, improve financial credit services, and strengthen insurance support. We should promote inclusive development of new business entities and small farmers, establish and improve systems and mechanisms for cultivating small farmers and involving them in the development of the whole industrial chain, and encourage small farmers to integrate themselves into modern agricultural development.

Strengthen scientific and technological support. We should further the strategy of innovation-driven development, highlight establishment of the national agricultural innovation system, and speed up formation of a new pattern of agricultural science and technology with national scientific research institutes as the backbone and enterprises as the main actors. We should promote development and application of eco-friendly agricultural technologies that enhance both production quality and efficiency, deepen reform of the agricultural science and technology system, elevate capacity of independent innovation in agricultural science and technology, and strive to make major breakthroughs in seed industry and other areas. We should improve high-standard farmland and promote application of the Internet and big data in agriculture. We should enhance agricultural mechanization and set up an industrial system of agricultural machinery and equipment that suits national conditions, takes root in industry, and develops with synergy, efficiency, and support.