China Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

China’s record-breaking economic development over the last few decades has helped hundreds of millions of people not to live in deep poverty. But there are still problems with poverty in the country and the income gaps between the poorest fifth of the population and the richest are large.

Inland rural and western provinces have slipped far behind big cities and coastal regions in economic development, and the income gap between rich and poor is very large. The result has been a stirring dissatisfaction in the countryside, which sometimes results in open revolts. Farmers have demonstrated against illegal local taxes, corrupt party pumps, rising prices or because their leased land has been sold by local politicians to give way to, for example, factories and business complexes. In cities, too, protests have flared up at regular intervals, often in connection with the restructuring or closure of state industries or the construction of new malls and hotels. Problems have arisen in the form of rising unemployment, crime and insecurity. Social unrest is common, especially in rural areas. There is concern among Chinese decision-makers that the number of protests should increase as a result of economic growth slowing down in recent years. The Communist Party has recognized the importance of trying to reduce the deep income gaps and eradicate poverty.

A special system for household registration, hukou, has been used since the 1950s to register residents as rural or urban residents, based on place of birth. It has hit hard on the many migrant workers from the countryside who have applied to the cities in search of jobs. Since they are still registered in the country, they are not covered by the rights, including education, health care and social insurance, which apply to registered city residents. Measures are in progress to provide greater social security for labor migrants and access to welfare systems in smaller and medium-sized cities. The big cities are much more reluctant to ease the demands.

Women are discriminated against in many areas of society. They work in most professions, but usually earn less than men and more women than men do not have a job. Men are mainly working in the party and state apparatus, although the number of women has increased during the 2000s.

china population

The rising number of pensioners whose share of the population increases as a consequence of the one-child policy (see Population and languages) and increased welfare, is expected to become an increasingly heavy supply burden for the working population. The fact that the statutory retirement age is so low makes matters worse. Women are still entitled to retire at age 50 if they work in factories and at age 55 if they are civil servants, while men retire at 60. The government wants to gradually raise the retirement age so that by 2045 it should be 65 for both men and women..

Under the old pension system, employers have paid the majority of the contributions, while the employees have paid a smaller part. But the system has worked poorly because employers rarely fulfill their obligations. Instead, new pension insurance is being introduced, which is to a greater extent based on employees’ own payments. Yet many rural residents and labor migrants lack access to pensions and are forced to rely on family, relatives or friends for their living.

Almost all Chinese are covered by health insurance, but low reimbursement levels are a problem here as well. Women are entitled to 14 weeks paid leave when they give birth to children.

The health and medical services are mainly located in the cities, where more and more private health clinics have been added. In the countryside, there is a shortage of educated staff as well as health care facilities, while many cannot afford to seek help. The Chinese combine Western methods with traditional medicine such as the use of acupuncture and herbal medicine. Major successes have been achieved in the health field since 1990, among other things, the mortality rate for children under five has dropped by two thirds and the average life expectancy has increased.

However, respiratory-related illnesses are a widespread problem due to poor air quality in cities and hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to die prematurely due to environmental problems. Among infectious diseases, lung diseases, such as tuberculosis, and hepatitis B are common. Many Chinese people are now also suffering from welfare disorders such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, while the proportion of overweight people has tripled in the last 15 years.

During the 1990s, tens of thousands of people were infected by rogue blood banks in Henan Province. A virus of previously unknown type, SARs, hit southern China in 2003. At the end of 2019, another so-called coronavirus, related to SARs, began to spread in Hubei Province. From there, it spread to other parts of China and also to several countries around the world. After the country introduced harsh quarantine rules, sampling and travel bans, the number of new domestic cases of covid-19 decreased, the disease caused by the corona virus. By then, over three thousand people in China had died of covid-19.


Infant Mortality: 7 per 1000 births (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 95.8 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 84.8 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 5.3 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 398 (2016)

Proportion of women in parliament: 25 percent (2018)



Increased microblogging monitoring

Authorities are tightening control over social media, including the popular micro-bloggers, where bloggers now have to sign their own names.

Imprisonment for regime critics

Author Chen Wei is sentenced to nine years in prison for rioting against the state. He has published articles on foreign websites criticizing the political system in China. Another regime critic, Chen Xi, is sentenced for the same crime to ten years in prison.

Activist chief in Wukan

Mass protests erupt in the village of Wukan in Guangdong Province in southern China after a man died in police custody. The body is said to bear signs of abuse, but authorities say the man died of heart problems. He was a representative of upset villagers who in the fall accused local officials of illegally selling land leased by villagers without giving them adequate compensation. The villagers are shortly thereafter heard for their protests and the demand for two local party officials to resign after talks with high party representatives in the province. It all ends with one of the villagers, Lin Zulian, becoming party leader in Wukan with the task of organizing elections for a new city council. His representative is being investigated for corruption.


New rules for journalists

Authorities prohibit journalists from passing on information from microbloggers if they have not been able to confirm it by several sources.

US plans are criticized

China is responding with annoyance to the announcement that the US will deploy a military base with marines in northern Australia – a way for the Obama administration to meet the growing threat from China in East and Southeast Asia.


New self-burns

Two Tibetan teenagers in Sichuan, probably former monks, set fire to themselves in protest of Beijing’s rule.


Military aid to Taiwan is criticized

The Chinese government sharply criticizes a US-Taiwan settlement for modernizing Taiwanese F-16 fighter aircraft.

Land sales are being investigated following protests

After several days of protests in a village in Guangdong Province in southern China, the authorities promise to review the sale of agricultural land for the construction of factories. Hundreds of angry villagers protested that they were losing their arable land as a result of unfair sales. A local police station and local government buildings had been attacked.

Uighurs are imprisoned

Four Uighurs are sentenced to death for terrorism, murder and arson in Xinjiang. Two more Uighur men receive long prison sentences for participating in the attacks in Hotan and Kashgar in July.


New leader of Tibetan exile government

Lobsang Sangay takes over as new head of government for the Tibetan exile government.


Attacks in Xinjiang

Dozens of people are killed in riots in Xinjiang: a police station in Hotan is attacked in mid-July and later in the month an attack is carried out in Kashgar. Authorities claim that militant Uighurs are behind.


Tensions between Vietnam and China

In mid-June, the Chinese regime sends a patrol boat to the South China Sea. In recent days, Vietnam and China have again been drawn into a conflict over the rights to islands and water in the South China Sea. While Vietnam accused China that a Chinese fishing boat with diligence would have destroyed Vietnamese vessels’ pipelines to investigate the presence of oil, Beijing claimed Vietnamese boats were in Chinese territory.

Ai Weiwei drops

Artist Ai Weiwei is released on bail in June after admitting “tax offenses” according to official records. The authorities also refer to his poor health.


Protests after murder in Inner Mongolia

After a Mongol shepherd has been run over by a man from the ethnic group, he in the autonomous Inner Mongolia demonstrates thousands of Mongols in different parts of the region. Two male Chinese are reported to have been arrested for the murder.

Clashes after Tibetan self-burning

A young monk sets fire to himself in a Tibetan monk monastery in Sichuan Province to remind of the violence in Lhasa in 2008. The incident leads to clashes between monks and security forces. 300 donuts are sent to “training camp”.

Ai Weiwei grips

The famous artist and well-known regime critic Ai Weiwei, one of the creators of the Beijing Olympic Stadium, is arrested by police when he is boarding a plane to Hong Kong. According to authorities, he is suspected of financial crime.


Prison for activist

Democratic activist Liu Xianbin is sentenced to a 10-year prison sentence.

Safety at nuclear power plants is reviewed

The government decides to temporarily suspend the construction of new nuclear power plants. The damage to nuclear power plants following the earthquake disaster in Japan means that they want to review the safety and safety regulations of the new nuclear power plants being built.

New Tibetan political leader

March 3rd

Tibetan leader Dalai Lama announces that he intends to submit a bill that would allow him to step down as political leader of the exile government. On March 20, a new leader of the exile government and elections to the Tibetan exile parliament will be held. Lobsang Sangay, a Tibetan lawyer from India who trained at Harvard in the United States, received just over half the votes.


Second largest economy

China ranks Japan as the world’s second largest economy, statistics for 2010 show.


State visit to the United States

President Hu Jintao meets with US President Barack Obama during his first US visit since 2006. Trade agreements worth about $ 45 billion are signed.