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China gets ticks for human development

BEIJING (SE): “China has made great progress in human development, yet must continue deepening its reforms and encouraging social innovation to ensure that human development is inclusive and equal and benefits all members in society,” a press release from the United Nations (UN) Development Programme says on publishing its 2016 report on Human Development in China on August 22.

The committee noted that it is difficult to make comparisons with the past in China, as its unique national social conditions make the use of precedents an unreliable guideline.

Published under the title, Social Innovation for Inclusive Human Development, the report explores new challenges for China. It especially looks into areas where progress has come at an uneven rate and seen an increase in inequality.

It provides suggested policies that can be used to address this through what it calls innovative social policies and public governance.

Xu Haoliang, the UN assistant secretary general and director of the Development Programme in Asia Pacific, says that the progress that China has made on poverty reduction contains lessons that can be used on a much wider basis in universal education and social security systems.

However, on the down side, the press release notes that more innovation is needed to eradicate the irregular progress, which often sees gaps widening between different factions of society, as some tend to be favoured more than others, especially in terms of gender and regions.

The report uses a criterion of measuring the extent to which people and their capabilities reflect most accurately the rate of development in a society, rather than simply looking at growth in production.

It rates China among the high-human-development-level countries. It now stands at 90 out of 188 countries, mostly, the report says, due to its economic development and partly because of its improvement in social policies.

Areas of significant achievement mentioned are maintaining a 99 per cent primary school attendance rate over at least one decade and an improvement in health care and living standards, which have seen an increase in life expectancy from 67.9 in 1981 to 74.8 in 2010.

It also received cookie points for its region by region tailored social policies, especially in the areas of land use, education, social insurance, medical security and village governance security.

The report notes that this has also contributed to a reduction in the poverty rate.

However, the nation’s weakest point remains the widening gap in income and distribution of health care and educational opportunities past primary level.

The report notes disparities in life expectancy, with a high in Shanghai of 80.26 and a low in Tibet of 68.17, where senior high school enrollments are also well below the national average.

“This calls for urgent action, especially in light of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals, whereby reduced inequality is a key target,” the report says.

Although it notes that China has big challenges coming up, especially in terms of demographics, aging population and its current large scale migration, it still has the potential to become a leader among newly industrialised countries on the road to forming inclusive human development policies.

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