Honing in on Well-being
Recently, the northern part of China has suffered bitter cold weather, but Shimin duihua yibashou (“a dialogue between heads of the government agencies of Beijing Municipality and its residents”), a programme of Beijing’s social and economic development organised by the Information Office of the People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, Radio Beijing Corporation, Beijing TV Station and other media agencies, attracted the attention of Beijingers. It was broadcast during the 1st Session of the 13th Committee of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the 1st Session of the 15th Beijing Municipal People’s Congress in late January 2018.
During the programme, Deng Naiping, director of the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau, announced that Beijing will launch a new round of one-million- mu afforestation (one mu is approximately equal to 0.067 hectare), covering its plain areas, hills, urban areas and satellite towns in the spring of 2018. The afforestation will follow the requirements of the Beijing Urban Master Plan (2016–2030) regarding its Urban Spatial Structure known as “One Main Area, One Sub- centre, Two Axes and Multiple Points” and its Green Ecological Space known as “One Barrier, Three Rings, Five Rivers and Nine Wedges.” As of the end of 2017, the coverage rate of completed public green spaces in Dongcheng and Xicheng districts using a 500-metre radius, is 90.42 percent and 95.03 percent, respectively, meaning the distance between most residents’ dwellings and green spaces isn’t greater 500 metres in the two districts. Beijing’s ecological environment is improving and residents are getting more exposure to nature.
In 2017, there were rapid changes in the urban management of Beijing. Beijing began upgrading 1,484 backstreets and alleys, 750 of which have been completed, and launched a system of street and alley management, including nominating 2,432 heads of streets and alleys, which has covered all alleys and backstreets in central urban areas.
Beijing will take more measures in 2018. At a press conference held during the 1st Session of the 15th Beijing Municipal People’s Congress, leaders of government agencies said they are working on detailed management of the city’s operation. Beijing will complete the upgrading of 615 backstreets and alleys in six districts in its urban areas and continue to implement the upgrading of 989 backstreets and alleys in its suburbs, including Chaoyang, Shijingshan and Tongzhou districts, and carry out waste sorting in government agencies, schools and hospitals, as required by law.
The purpose of strengthening ecological improvement and urban management is to enhance residents’ sense of happiness, fulfillment and security. Li Wanjun, director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs, explained during the programme that Beijing has maintained annual growth of 10 percent in financial investment in the care of the elderly for five consecutive years, investment in elderly care was 1.2 billion yuan in 2017 and that Beijing issued 2.53 million Beijing Tong cards (a service card for the elderly and disabled).
During the programme, Xu Xi, director of Beijing’s Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, said that in 2017, more than 1.8 million farmers were covered by medical insurance and that when holding a medical card, most expenses are covered by medical insurance after cardholders pay other costs; 40,000 farmers found jobs based on policies for the transfer of rural surplus labor issued by the government; Beijing will release policies to advance vocational training for farmers and establish a service platform of “Internet plus Employment and Entrepreneurship” to integrate resources of the government and market in 2018, providing information from supply and demand to enable better employment services for farmers.
The steps Beijing takes are meant to be closely related to the theme of its development: people’s well-being. The city will continue to showcase robust strength in its social and economic development in 2018.