Eight highlights of the 2019 Government Work Report: social groups, social work, and philanthropy

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China’s 13th National People’s Congress opened its second session on the morning of March 5th at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Premier Li Keqiang delivered the government work report at the meeting. A report from the “Charity Times” (公益时报), China’s most respected publication on the philanthropic sector, summarized eight points from the work report which will have a significant impact on the development of the philanthropical sector.

1. Social forces will receive more attention.

The report mentions “supporting the social forces to increase the supply of non-basic public services” for the first time. The reason is clearly that, due to the heavy pressure on the balance of payments, making more use of social forces in this field is an inevitable choice. On the one hand this will provide social forces such as social service agencies more opportunities and support, but on the other hand it remains unknown whether they will be required to take on more social responsibilities.

2. The community (社区) will become the focus of social governance and social organizations.

Learning from the “Fengqiao experience” (枫桥经验), it is important to focus more on the community and the autonomy of residents. First of all, take measures to develop community social organizations; Secondly, cultivate professional social workers to provide more humanized and personalized community service; Thirdly, support community social organizations with subsidies, government procurement, rewards, and start-up investments. This is not only a positive signal for community social organizations, but also requires other kinds of social organizations to cooperate more with grassroots communities. 

3. The word “social work” (社会工作) doesn’t appear in the report.

“Social work” has been mentioned in the government work report in the past four years, but this year it has been replaced by “humanitarian assistance”, which means it is not separately listed as a priority for the government. However, there are many other expressions and tasks relevant to it. Also, we should notice that social work has made great progress in 2018, with the number of professional social workers reaching over a million. Besides, the Ministry of Civil Affairs will launch a new division for philanthropy and social work.

4. Disaster relief social groups will have more opportunities for development.

The term “humanitarian assistance” has been included in the report for the first time, and it has become a priority for government work in 2019, signalling great opportunities for disaster relief social groups. As humanitarian assistance is international, the “going out” projects of those organizations will also find support. Besides, it is emphasized that the national emergency response system should be completed and improved.

5. Educational nonprofits have new goals.

The report points out that developing vocational education is a solution for the pressure of employment and the shortage of highly-skilled talent. It is a new direction for those who care about education. Vocational education benefits both education and employment and it also contributes to poverty alleviation. There have been several social groups such as the China Development Research Foundation and the BN Vocational School exploring this field, and the participation of more charitable forces is expected.

6. Elderly care institutions will gain more support.

According to the report, the number of people in China aged 60 and above has reached 250 million, and elderly care has become a social issue. In 2019 the government will pay more attention to community and home care for the elderly, taking measures such as tax reductions, fee cuts and exemptions, funding support and the construction of elderly care facilities. This will necessitate large quantities of small and mid-sized institutions, which will provide more employment opportunities for those in the philanthropical sector.

7. The poverty alleviation campaign continues.

Social assistance to the state’s poverty alleviation campaign has been strengthened in 2018. Enterprises and social groups have both taken part in the campaign. This trend will continue in 2019.

8. Infant care services come into focus.

Early childhood education for kids in rural areas has been overlooked for a long time. The report assures that it will encourage social groups to develop childcare institution and strengthen child protection, especially for left-behind children, following the implementation of the universal two-child policy.