4. What Is the Actual Effect of the "Policy of People's Livelihood"?

The media in Mainland China report that issues regarding people's livelihood have remained the central focus every year of the annual "Two Congresses." Moreover, a survey by Xinhua website to identify the hot issues of the Two Congresses shows that the new "three big mountains" (namely "difficulty of seeking medical treatment," "difficulty of finding housing," and " difficulty of attending school") are the issues that people are most concerned about, with respective ratings of 76%, 65%, and 50% (according to China Securities Press on February 28, 2007). This is in itself evidence that the policies of the "people's livelihood" have had very limited effect and have not resolved the problems at the root. Therefore the same issues remain as a central focus every year.

Take the current issue of greatest concern--that of food safety-- as an example: the CCP has laid down a pile of policies to deal with the food safety problem, and countless meetings have been held, but the fact is that the more they try to deal with it, the more toxic foods appear on the market. Due to the issue of the exported toxic pet food to the US (tainted with melamine), the regime launched a 4-month long campaign to inspect food safety. From the regime's central government to local areas, offices were set up at each level and were headed by deputy premiers, provincial governors, mayors, and county heads, and they made quite a fuss about the issue. Then what was the outcome? Pet food in the US may have become much safer, but infant formula was then found to be toxic. The regime has corrupted the entire national system and degenerated the morality of the people. The Party itself is the source of poison, so how can we hold any illusion that the Party can fundamentally improve people's lives?

4.1 The So-called "Abolition of the Agriculture Tax"

With the so-called "abolition of the agriculture tax" hyped up by the CCP media, many people who are not associated with agriculture believe that the farmers' lives have taken a turn for the better and are on their way towards prosperity. It is true that farmers can gain certain benefits since the abolition of the agriculture tax, but when it come to resolving the "three agriculture problems" (referring to the problems of agriculture, the countryside, and farmers), such benefits are utterly inadequate.

The abolition of the agriculture tax has reduced the revenue for local governments, and this has in turn given rise to the already rampant "excessive fees." Those in charge of birth control have waited until after an illegal birth in order to levy a bigger fine against the couple in question. Those in charge of the anti-vice campaign try to make more money by deliberately entrapping frequenters so that they can be arrested and fined. Those in charge of law enforcement favoring cremation have waited until after farmers have buried their dead so that they could fine them. In fact, the agriculture tax is not the heaviest burden for farmers in the first place. In many remote country areas, the local governments have long exempted or reduced the agriculture tax for the poor peasants, or the peasants are simply too poor to pay any tax. However, their problems of poverty have never been resolved. Furthermore, the government has allowed price increases in agricultural production materials; so in many cases, the peasants' income is even less than before. The government has also increased taxes for manufacturers and distributors of agricultural production materials; so in fact the government has simply transferred the agriculture tax to a commercial tax.

Whenever the Communist regime stipulates a "policy," it makes a big fuss about it, but it's intention is not to implement the policy. What the CCP cares about most is creating an opportunity to glorify itself.

4.2 The So-called "Exemption and Reduction of School Fees"

Likewise, this policy was also promoted on a grand scale, and people thought that the regime had resolved the hard education problems. In fact, it was very difficult to set a standard "sundry fees." Many schools still charge students these fees, albeit in a disguised form. There are all kinds of fees, such as the uniform fee, insurance fee, heating fee, hygiene fee, medical check-up fee, exam paper fee, activity fee, registration fee, fundraising fee, maintenance fee, make-up exam fee, and for those students who are behind in their studies, they also need to pay a "coaching fee."

In fact, as early as April 1986, China published "Act of Compulsory Education of the People's Republic of China," under which "children and teenagers" must receive a 9-year compulsory education. Currently, more than 170 countries out of over 190 countries have achieved compulsory education, even North Korea. It is shocking that only now, after over 20 years of so-called economic miracles, China has raised this issue again. The task to popularize and consolidate compulsory education in China still remains arduous. Even if sundry fees are abolished, there will still be a large number of truants.

The following is according to Zhou Ji, Minister of Education: There is a serious shortage of lab equipment and books in many schools in the countryside. As a result, they could not provide adequate courses decided on by the state, and they could not meet the basic requirements. Boarding conditions provided for students were even worse. In many schools in the countryside, very often one dormitory had to accommodate dozens of students, and one bed was shared by several children. Many schools have sub-standard fire prevention facilities, and there are serious potential risks in safety and hygiene. It is commonplace that middle school classes are oversized, and classrooms are crowded with students. This has seriously affected students' physical and mental health, in addition to teaching activities. The drop-out rate in rural middle schools across China has reached 3.55%, with 4.640eing the highest in mid-west regions. According to drop-out rates in middle schools in 60 counties by the Ministry of Education, some schools' drop-out rate is over 7%; in a few counties, the drop-out rate is as high as around 10%.

The regime has invested so little in education. How can it possibly resolve the education issues in a down-to-earth manner?

4.3 The So-called "New Medical Reform Policies" and "National Medical Care"

Of the Chinese government's investment in medical treatment, 800f it is for the provision of service for 8.5 million people who are mostly Party officials (according to a survey by the Chinese Academy of Sciences). Based on information from the Ministry of Inspection and Ministry of Human Resources, around 2 million officials at various levels are on long-term sick leave. Among them 40,000 have long-term occupancy in hospital wards, guest houses, or holiday resorts. This costs 50 billion yuan of taxpayers' money per year.

In comparison with this elite class, the situation of the common people is worse than miserable. "Difficulty of seeking medical treatment" is number one of the "three big mountains" pressed on people. The regime's medical reforms come and go without any effect. People wonder: "Why is it so difficutl to enact medical reform?" There are many factors involved. Let us take a look at some specific examples of the collusion between regime officials, merchants, and hospitals and how they trade power and money. Then we may understand why medical reform is so difficult. Under normal circumstances, it may take at least five years for a new medicine to be applied at the clinic, from research and development to appraisal and application at the clinic. However, in China, such a process can be reduced to dozens of days. The reason for this is that the appraisal experts have become senior advisors of the development of new medicines in pharmaceutical companies, and authoritative officials have also become "consultants" to share in the profits. It is an open secret that old medicine is given a new name, and outdated medicine is repackaged and sold as new.

Of course it is a good thing to have "national medical care" (or "medical care for all people"), but how much money is the regime willing to come up with to help the masses of people? The current cooperative of medical care in the countryside is very weak due to a lack of funding, and it would be very difficult for the government to take comprehensive responsibility for the public health and medical care of all people. With such a huge population and such scarce resources, national medical care will only lead to a situation where patients have to remain in queue for months or even years for treatment. In a country with a decadent system and degenerate morality, people with power, influence, money and connections will undoubtedly always get priority treatment, and the ordinary people can only wait and die.

Of the limited funding from the government, much is embezzled by officials at various levels. There have been large cases reported in the media. For example, two such reports include: "Hangzhou police cracked a large embezzlement of 45 million yuan for medical care" and "Ningxia has dealt with a large case of collusion between insiders and outsiders over embezzlement of 32 million of medical care funds." When we see that society is full of such corrupt officials, it is not hard to understand how difficult it is to carry out medical reform and implement medical care.

Who should make the most sacrifices in the course of social development? The Communist regime's principles are to let the disadvantaged group of people make the most sacrifice. How to achieve the best effect with public medical funds? The regime has chosen to give priority to cities ahead of the countryside. In a situation where there is a lack of medical resources, who would receive the priority treatment? It has become a subconscious choice that the CCP has allowed the advanced group of people with power and money to enjoy priority.

4.4 The So-called "National Social Security" Funds

A number of corruption cases have been exposed in recent years that involve the embezzlement of social security funds (named "life-saving money" by many). Take a few typical examples for illustration. In the case of the embezzlement of Shanghai social security funds that was uncovered in 2006, officials involved in the case include Chen Liangyu (member of the CCP Polit-bureau and Secretary of Shanghai Party Committee), Qin Yu (head of Shanghai Baoshan District), Zhu Junyi (head of Shanghai Bureau of Social Security), Qiu Xiaohua (head of the National Bureau of Statistics) and others. The embezzlement involved the huge sum of 3.2 billion yuan of social security funds. The question of why there have been so many large cases of embezzlement of social security funds became a focus in media reports for a while. Such headlines in the news have included: "Shaanxi Province Hanzhong City cracked a big case of embezzlement of social security funds; a number of officials were dealt with and dismissed from their posts," "Zhejiang Province Jinhua City uncovered embezzlement of hundreds of millions of social security funds; executive deputy mayor was subjected to double designation (which means intense questioning in a designated place at a designated time), and "Liaoning Province uncovered a big case of embezzlement of social security funds; local officials embezzled tens of millions of pension funds." We can see how serious the problem is. These are only a few cases that have been reported. Who knows how many more cases are still unknown?

The funds are the people's money, and yet the people have no way to scrutinize how the funds are used. Isn't it a tragedy?

4.5 The Deception of the "Policy of People's Livelihood"

China faces all kinds of social problems, both intricate and complex. With a decadent system and a general degeneration of morality, these problems are very difficult to resolve. In addition, due to the regime's contradictory polices where one may offset the other, the effect is very much reduced. In essence, these policies of "people's livelihood" are only small measures that are taken to deal with huge problems in that area. Yet after they are hyped up by the Party's media, many people think that the government has resolved the complex issues of people's livelihood, and as a result they have further developed their illusions about the Party. People may find it extremely ridiculous when they look back at the time when the Party propagated that we would jog into the era of communism. In fact, in years to come, when people look back at the illusions they hold today about the Communist Party's caring for the construction of people's livelihood and a harmonious society, they will find it just as ridiculous.

There is a standard to measure the effectiveness of the policies of people's livelihood, and that is the "degree of harmony" in society. In the latest edition of a news weekly, Liao Wang (for Xinhua News Agency) referred to some government statistics: in 2006 there were over 90,000 incidents of group protest across China, and "the figure is steadily increasing." The report referenced the example of the incident in Weng'An and said that in terms of the number of people involved, the length of time, the degree of confrontation, and the impact caused, the Weng'An incident has revealed that "one cannot ignore resentments in the people that have accumulated at the bottom of the social spectrum."

The Party stipulates "good policies" with its left hand, and cooks up "bad policies" with its right hand. So they are not only unable to resolve any old issues, but new problems also emerge one after another. The social problems are bound to become larger and larger. So when you see the "good policies" in the left hand of the Party, do not be deceived. You must watch carefully what the Party is doing with its dirty right hand.

5. How Should We View the Delayed "Policy of People's Livelihood?"

Amidst the uproarious propaganda of "prosperity," the Communist regime suddenly realised that the large issues concerning people's livelihood, such as "education, employment, distribution, social security, medical care, stability and fairness," have become so serious that they are threatening the foundation of the regime's rule. In western countries, if the problems of people's livelihood had become so bad, the government would have long been driven out of office, let alone allowing a party like the Communist Party to prettify itself in the name of "people's livelihood."

However, some people think it is better to have delayed "good policies" than nothing. Some believe that, no matter what, the policies of people's livelihood will achieve some effect in a certain period of time and space, and the social conflicts will become less tense. If this is the case, why bother still criticizing the Party?

The reason some people hold such a view is perhaps because the Chinese people are so used to being suppressed by the Communist autocracy and are so easily satisfied with temporary, small benefits. They do not know what rights they should have and dare not even imagine what life would be like without the Communist Party. However, we should not be moved by temporary, petty benefits. We should instead consider the long-term interests for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren.

(1) The problems of "people's livelihood" were caused by the Communist Party, and it should be held accountable for them, not the ordinary people.

The regime said that we have to pay a price for reform, even to sacrifice one generation. Therefore, they have laid off tens of millions of veteran workers. Chen Hong, a laid-off worker in Hunan Province argued justly and forcefully, "We did not create the state planned economy, and neither did we invent communism. If there is any price to pay, then we should ask the Communist Party to pay first. If people need to be laid off, then the Party officials should be laid off in the first place. Why should we be scarified?" What is regrettable is that most Chinese people, under the deception and violent suppression of the CCP, habitually think that people should pay for what the Party has done.

(2) Do not be deceived by the temporary effect of the policies of people's livelihood, and do not be grateful and hold any hopes for the CCP.

As soon as the party put out the signboard of "people's livelihood," the Chinese people immediately felt grateful. Such is a typical scene with "China's characteristics." The government relies on the people's taxes for their existence. Except for a small number of communist autocracies in the world, governments in every country take people's livelihood as their fundamental responsibility. However, in China, the Party puts out the "policies of people's livelihood" with its left hand, while with its right hand, it vigorously stops the implementation of those policies. This is another common scene with "China's characteristics." If the Chinese people sing high praise of the Party for what it does with its left hand, thinking the Party is changing for the better, while allowing the hoodlum conduct by the Party with its right hand, then in the end those who suffer will still be the people. Several decades ago, the regime made a loud noise about "serving the people." Then why is it that decades later, people still find it hard to breathe under "the three big mountains" of problems in people's livelihood? One important reason is that the Party uses the media to encourage people to have hope in the Party for its "good policies." Then the regime stops them from pursuing any aspirations for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of press, and freedom of belief. People need to realise that these freedoms are the only guarantee for the implementation of the "good policies." The CCP advocates that "there has never been any saviour for people," and yet they forcibly brainwash people's minds and demand that they should place all their hopes in the evil Communist Party as their "saviour." What we need is freedom for the people to organize themselves to scrutinize the conduct of the government, and the freedom to cultivate themselves.

(3) Do not feel content with "the bit of effect;" do not wait for handouts from the CCP; we need to safeguard our own rights.

A single policy, with its superficial effect, plus the propaganda hyped up by the Party's media, is enough for the regime to buy its "legitimacy" of power and make people think that the Communist Party still represents the people after all. However, the regime's policies are changeable. They come as a breeze of wind, and when the wind is gone, nothing is done. Moreover, with the mentality that the law does not apply when a lot of people are involved and that it is stupid not to grab (money) when you can, more and more people dare to commit crimes. The Communist Party, in order to cope with the crises, keeps popping out new policies, but without doing anything to reform the political system to guarantee the implementation of these policies. They still keep the same decadent bureaucracy. There is no balanced system, and it is still the same group of people who make the policies, implement the policies, and inspect the policies. It is still the same situation in which the Party secretary makes decisions. Regardless of how good the policies are, how can they truly have any long-term effect?

If the people only passively accept the regime's policies of people's livelihood, and if such policies are wrong, and yet they still cannot be rectified in time, then their problems will not raise any concern until another social crisis forms. Then, there will be another round of new "policies of people's livelihood." If they are no good, there will appear new problems....., and our society will inevitably be trapped in a vicious circle that becomes narrower and narrower.

(To be continued)