Nav Search

Promoting High-Quality Development of Civil Affairs to Advance Chinese Modernization

By CPC Leadership Group of the Ministry of Civil Affairs Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2024-05-11

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core has attached great importance to civil affairs, setting forth major tasks such as increasing the people’s wellbeing and enhancing living standards. It has called on all involved to do everything within our capacity to see that people’s basic needs are accurately identified and fully guaranteed and to advance Chinese modernization by promoting high-quality development in the arena of civil affairs.

I. Fulfilling our function of meeting the basic needs of extremely vulnerable groups

President Xi Jinping has emphasized that no issue concerning the people’s wellbeing is too trivial and that every detail matters when it pertains to the overall context. We must, therefore, afford people in need extra consideration, compassion, and care and assist them in resolving their concerns and difficulties. President Xi has called on civil affairs departments at all levels to channel their efforts toward poverty alleviation, special groups, and the public’s concerns. We must fulfill our responsibilities in ensuring basic needs are met, exercising community-level social governance, and providing basic social services, improve the social assistance and social welfare systems, and implement policies tailored to the characteristics and needs of extremely vulnerable groups. Through these efforts, we can guarantee that people’s basic needs are met in an accurate and effective way.

Improving the social assistance system

Working alongside relevant departments, we have refined basic living assistance systems, such as the subsistence allowance scheme. In doing so, we have incorporated people with serious illness or severe disability from families just above the threshold of eligibility. Such efforts have ensured coverage and assistance for all those who need it. By the end of November 2023, the urban and rural subsistence allowance program had provided assistance to 40.45 million people, including 6.62 million urban residents and 33.83 million rural residents.

We have rolled out a program for local governments to provide temporary assistance to people affected by disasters or emergencies in their jurisdictions, thereby enhancing support for people facing temporary hardships. In 2023, some 5.44 million recipients benefited from temporary assistance.


Graduate student volunteers from Northwest University play with left-behind children and other kids at a community for people relocated from inhospitable areas in Rongshui Miao Autonomous County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, August 13, 2023. The volunteers engaged in tutoring, games, and reading activities and offered other services to ensure children had a happy and fulfilling summer vacation. PEOPLE’S DAILY / PHOTO BY LONG TAO

We have stepped up dynamic monitoring for low-income residents and established a tightly woven social security net by developing a multi-tiered and categorized social assistance system. We have put in place sharing mechanisms with the departments for education, healthcare, housing and urban-rural development, and rural revitalization, as well as with trade unions and disabled persons’ federations. This has helped ensure timely and regular assistance and support for all those who are eligible.

Assistance for those in financial difficulties has been bolstered, benefiting 4.7 million individuals, including 365,000 urban residents and nearly 4.33 million rural residents. We have enhanced alignment between government assistance and charitable support and provided guidance and support to public-interest and charitable entities involved in providing social assistance. We have also guided local authorities in effectively implementing special relief initiatives to provide essential support during severe winter cold and extreme summer heat. This has helped ensure the personal safety and basic living conditions of people affected by extreme weather.

Enhancing child welfare

In line with the principle of prioritizing children’s interests, we have put in place a long-term mechanism to curb school dropout rates and ensure consistent attendance among children in adversity. We have strengthened the support measures for children without guardians and have taken well-conceived and targeted steps to protect the rights and interests of rural migrant workers’ children who either live with them in cities or those left behind in rural areas. We have steadily raised basic support standards for orphans and children without guardians, integrating them into the mechanism of social assistance and social security benefits against commodity price increases. Additionally, we have organized the implementation of the Tomorrow Plan, which focuses on medical rehabilitation for orphans, thereby providing support for the healthy development of children with disabilities.

To enhance educational support, we have implemented a welfare lottery-funded project to help orphans realize their dreams by providing scholarships for those who have been offered places at secondary vocational schools and higher education institutions. We have also advanced efforts to transform and improve child welfare organizations and adopted an integrated approach to childrearing, education, medical care, rehabilitation, and mental health. These efforts have resulted in a better environment for children to grow up in.

Improving the welfare system for people with disabilities

We have improved the living subsidy system for people with disabilities facing financial difficulties and the care subsidy system for people with severe disabilities. By the end of December 2023, these systems had benefited 11.82 million people with disabilities facing financial difficulties and 15.73 million persons with severe disabilities. Local governments nationwide have established dynamic adjustment mechanisms for subsidy standards.

We have launched an integrated mental health initiative to strengthen rehabilitation services for mental disorders. We have promoted the construction of 49 industrial parks for producing rehabilitation assistive devices and accelerated the development of community rental services for such devices.

II. Implementing the national strategy for actively responding to population aging and developing elderly care programs and the elderly care sector

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee has put a high priority on the response to population aging. President Xi has pointed out that meeting the diverse needs of China’s vast elderly population and properly addressing the social issues arising from population aging are matters that concern the overall development of the country and the wellbeing of the people. With a focus on both the immediate reality and the long-term horizon, we must work to strengthen top-level design and improve policies and systems related to childbirth, employment, and elderly care. We must respond in a timely, well-conceived, and comprehensive manner to ensure the proper care and support elderly people need to feel content and secure in their life’s later years.

Improving the policy system for elderly care services

We have implemented the Guidelines on Advancing the Development of the Basic Elderly Care Service System jointly issued by the general offices of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. We have also encouraged local governments to roll out implementation plans and publish local lists of basic elderly care services, so as to move faster in establishing a basic elderly care service system.

An action plan for developing meal catering services for seniors has been released, and we have researched and formulated guidelines for accelerating the development of elderly care services in rural areas and for fostering a contingent of skilled elderly care personnel. We have also organized the promotion of centralized care services for functionally impaired seniors facing financial difficulties. In addition, we have provided targeted guidance to local governments to address key difficulties and problems in delivering elderly care services.

Enhancing our capacity to provide basic elderly care

In collaboration with the National Development and Reform Commission, we have implemented a project for proactively responding to population aging, and the central government has allocated budgetary investment to support the construction of elderly care facilities. In conjunction with the Ministry of Finance, we have carried out an initiative aimed at enhancing basic home- and community-based elderly care services. This initiative aims to provide home care beds and home-based services to eligible seniors who have complete or partial functional impairment. Through cooperation with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, we have worked to ensure that elderly care facilities are built in new housing developments during the construction phase. This has helped improve the layout of community-based elderly care service facilities. Local governments have also been encouraged to carry out elderly-friendly home renovations for vulnerable seniors.

We have refined the welfare and subsidy support policies for elderly people, ensuring the implementation of schemes such as old-age allowances and elderly care subsidies. By the end of September 2023, the total number of various elderly care institutions and facilities had reached 400,000, with a capacity of 8.21 million beds, representing year-on-year increases of 7.2% and 0.5%, respectively. Furthermore, local governments have received guidance on accelerating the implementation of home visitation and care services to facilitate the early detection and prevention of risks related to home-based elderly care.

Strengthening oversight of elderly care services

Building on the implementation of a campaign for improving the quality of nursing home services in recent years, we have launched a comprehensive grading system for elderly care institutions and kicked off a year-long nationwide initiative to boost oversight of elderly care services. In joint efforts with relevant departments, we have implemented the Regulations on Fire Safety Management in Elderly Care Institutions and issued guidance for localities on identifying and rectifying various types of hidden safety hazards. We have studied and formulated standards for major safety risks and hidden hazards in elderly care institutions and relevant measures for managing advance fee payments. A notice has been issued to alert people about risks related to illicit fundraising activities in the elderly care service sector. We have also made continuous efforts to combat fraudulent activity and elder abuse in this sector.

III. Strengthening social governance and raising public service standards in the civil affairs sector

President Xi has pointed out that working for the people’s wellbeing is an essential part of our Party’s commitment to serving the public good and exercising governance for the people, and that we must effectively realize, safeguard, and advance the fundamental interests of the people. We must, therefore, firmly grasp issues of the greatest, most direct, and most practical concern to the people, adopt more measures that deliver real benefits to them and win their approval, work hard to resolve the pressing difficulties and problems that concern them most, and improve basic public services to raise public service standards. On this basis, President Xi has put forward clear requirements for managing social organizations and developing charitable undertakings.

We must guide social organizations in pursuing sound development and playing a positive role

We must uphold and reinforce CPC’s leadership over work relating to social organizations and take coordinated steps to ensure that CPC developing initiatives and CPC work cover all social organizations, seeing that they listen to the Party and follow its lead. With this in mind, we have worked with relevant departments to step up the implementation of policies regarding government procurement of services, tax incentives, and personnel support to unlock the intrinsic momentum and vitality of social organizations.

We have engaged a variety of social organizations in our efforts to ensure the people’s wellbeing and support economic and social development. We have implemented paired assistance programs to link some nationwide social organizations as well as those based in economically more developed eastern region with 160 counties across the country receiving assistance for rural revitalization. We have also involved social organizations in efforts to ensure employment for college graduates.

A credit information platform has been put in place to boost the transparency and credibility of social organizations. Several advanced social organizations have been selected to serve as exemplary models and drivers of the sector’s overall development. We have also steadily worked to eliminate moribund “zombie” social organizations and decisively clamped down on and rectified any illegal social organizations to ensure a healthy ecosystem in this space.

We must promote the development of charitable undertakings

To this end, the Sunshine Initiative has been launched to bolster oversight over charitable organizations and endeavors, thereby boosting the transparency and credibility of charitable and public-benefit programs. We also hosted the 12th China Charity Award Ceremony and the 10th China Charity Fair to guide and support enterprises, social organizations, and individuals who are eager and able to participate in charitable and public-benefit activities. Additionally, we have tightened management over the issuing of welfare lottery tickets to ensure that money coming out of the people’s pockets is used for their benefit.


Seniors learn paper cutting art at an elderly daycare center in Wangshawan Community, Yuncheng County, Shandong Province, September 22, 2023. Yuncheng County has been working to establish an elderly care services system to cover the county, township, village, and household levels, so it can continue to meet the diverse needs of senior residents and ensure they enjoy happy and meaningful lives. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER GUO XULEI

We must provide more convenience and greater benefits to the public and enterprises

In this respect, we have simplified the process of applying for social assistance by implementing a single window system for applications and inter-departmental collaboration for processing applications. The pilot program facilitating cross-provincial marriage registration for mainland residents has been extended to 21 provinces, covering 78.5% of China’s population. We have also adopted a cross-provincial application system for two disability subsidy schemes.

An initiative has been introduced to direct and improve rural place-naming activities, and the Internet Plus Place Name Services project has been initiated to facilitate public travel and support rural revitalization efforts. We have also launched a campaign to lighten the burden placed on enterprises by industry associations and chambers of commerce, abolishing fees levied on them that violate laws and regulations and exercising strict regulation over those that are lawful and justifiable. These efforts have lightened the load on market entities and aided them in overcoming difficulties.

IV. Furthering reform and innovation and boosting our ability to deliver high-quality development

President Xi has pointed out that comprehensively furthering reform bears on the future of our Party and people as well as our Party’s governance foundation and position, and that the unwavering goal of reform must be to promote social fairness and justice and to improve the wellbeing of the people. We must, therefore, strive to eliminate entrenched obstacles within mechanisms and systems and speed up the pace of institutional innovation in areas relating to public wellbeing. On this basis, President Xi has put forward important requirements for furthering reform and innovation in the civil affairs sector.

To address the underdevelopment of service facilities, we must coordinate the implementation of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) and the 102 specific major projects therein. Working in collaboration with the National Development and Reform Commission, we will devise and execute central budgetary investment plans for projects to proactively respond to population aging, develop childcare facilities, and establish social service facilities for meeting people’s basic needs. We will expedite the implementation of projects in the 14th Five-Year Plan that aim to fill gaps in the availability of funeral homes and mental health welfare facilities.

To address the lagging development of the rule of law within the civil affairs sector, we must push forward legislation in critical and urgent areas. We will work to advance the revision of the Charity Law and the drafting of the Social Assistance Law. We will accelerate the process of revising the Registration Measures for the Adoption of Children by Chinese Citizens and move forward with the formulation of departmental regulations, including the Implementation Measures for the Regulations on the Administration of Place Names and the Administrative Measures for the Names of Social Organizations. To address the ineffective implementation of some decisions and plans, work inspection mechanisms will be bolstered. We must ensure that all major decisions and plans are fully implemented and yield the intended outcomes.

To tackle the issue of inadequate supporting services for the development of civil affairs, we must make a coordinated push for progress in a range of areas. This includes news and communication, information technology development, policy and theoretical research, vocational education, training, scientific and technological research and application, and statistics and studies. We will also strengthen the management of both civil affairs agencies and directly affiliated organizations at all levels. These steps will ensure stronger support for the development of civil affairs programs. To shore up weaknesses in civil affairs capacity at the community level, we will guide the development of civil affairs teams in townships and urban subdistricts and organize capacity-building activities.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 2, 2024)