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Yu Zhang

The chapter provides an account of the structure and functional purpose of secondary education, which is to prepare a qualified labour force and educate high-performing students so that they may enter tertiary education. It highlights regional inequalities, especially between rural and urban areas. It concludes that central government recognition of the importance of secondary education will ensure a commitment to addressing issues of equity and quality in a systematic way.

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Sarah Dauncey

The chapter provides a comprehensive examination of the development of special and inclusive education. It draws upon detailed analyses of the conditions for the development of an inclusive system, and provides convincing evidence that China has made great strides towards providing enhanced educational opportunities for its disabled population through state-led initiatives and policy making. It concludes, however, that multi-level and multi-form barriers remain to be overcome.

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Xianan Hu and Fengliang Li

The chapter introduces the structure, governance and finance of the Chinese education system. The chapter explains the ways in which elementary, secondary and higher education in China relates to the politics, economy and culture of society, and the various issues that each phase needs to address if it is to achieve educational fairness and equality.

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Ping Zhao, Jun Zhou and Qiong Li

The chapter provides an account of the transition of teacher education from a single-purpose teacher preparation system to the current system where the responsibility of preparing future teachers is shared between normal universities and general-purpose (or comprehensive) colleges and universities. This has improved the qualification profiles of teachers in China. However, quality issues and regional disparities remain to be addressed.

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Zhiqun Zhao and Xueping Wu

The chapter provides an account of the historical and current development of technical and vocational education. The modernization and reform of the system has shown the importance of technical and vocational education to skills development in the labour market. The authors conclude, however, that Confucian inspired prejudice continues to constrain public participation and engagement in technical and vocational education, irrespective of the central government’s policy commitment and interventions.

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Yuzhuo Cai and Fengqiao Yan

The chapter provides an account of the major structural changes in Chinese higher education since 2000. It focusses on governance, finance, and priorities and responsibilities to serve the social and economic modernization of the country. It concludes that enhancing Chinese universities’ social engagement and international research and development profiles is a necessary if China is to integrate with a global knowledge-based economy.

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Jieyu Liu

Drawing upon qualitative data from a project on ageing in rural China, this chapter examines the experiences of older people and their families in responding to geographical separation resulting from the migration of the younger generation to the cities. It aims to contribute to our understanding of rural ageing in the following two aspects. First, it incorporates the recent move in Chinese social policies for rural villages (including pilot pension and medical care schemes), and explores the interaction between the State and the existing familial support systems. It reveals that the current welfare regime in rural China is deeply embedded in a familial ideology, with the State (directly or indirectly) relying upon individual households to fulfil many of the care and financial responsibilities associated with government welfare provision. Second, this chapter draws attention to more nuanced dynamics within the family. Contrary to the image of a ‘burden’ to their families, older people are active support providers to their children. Yet the role of gender in intra-household power relations has meant that older rural women carry a disproportionate part of the responsibility for grandchild care and family farming as a result of their adult children’s migration to the cities.

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Jennifer Y.J. Hsu and Reza Hasmath

This chapter explores the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as welfare providers and the difficulties they face during the reform era. Since 1978, the move toward a market economy has led to the dismantling of the old support system distributed via the work unit (danwei) and communes. The liberalisation of the welfare system has left millions of Chinese citizens with no or an inadequate support system. Systemic social reforms did not take off until the turn of the 21st century. Reforms were informed by various local experiments, with local governments responsible for new and innovative solutions. As a result, various novel methods of delivering welfare assistance were developed by both State and non-State stakeholders to fulfil such responsibilities, with NGOs playing a growing role. The devolution of responsibility, since the late 1970s, from the Central level down to the lowest levels of government, created opportunities from the 1990s onward for NGOs to engage with broader segments of society. Nevertheless, we argue in this chapter that the institutional and internal organisational constraints that beset NGOs can provide us with a clearer picture and more realistic expectations of what NGOs can achieve as welfare providers. We contextualise and support our argument with a case study of welfare NGOs in the city of Nanjing, in order to demonstrate some of the obstacles that NGOs face in conducting their work in China in general.

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Emily Baum

State provision for the mentally ill is a relatively recent phenomenon in China. Prior to the early twentieth century, mentally ill individuals were typically kept within the home, and State agents did not intervene unless the individual was violent or criminal. It was not until 1908 that the first public asylum was erected in China for the exclusive care of the insane. From that point on, subsequent governing regimes experimented with a variety of approaches to treating mental illness and managing those who were affected by the disorder. This chapter will place Chinese psychiatric welfare in its historical context, and will argue that certain issues facing psychiatric welfare in China today can be traced back to longer historical processes. In particular, it will discuss three factors that continue to exert an influence on the current state of psychiatric welfare: first, the longstanding priority placed on domestic, rather than State, care of the mentally ill; second, uneven geographical access to psychiatric care, with urban areas being prioritized over rural ones; and, third, popular attitudes and beliefs about the nature and proper treatment of mental illness. By examining the contemporary state of Chinese psychiatric welfare in its historical context, this chapter will show how Western forms of welfare do not always function as expected when transplanted into a Chinese setting.

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Ole Bruun

After 30 years of unbridled economic growth China is now facing tremendous challenges from urban air pollution, toxic emissions from industry and power plants, pollution of waterways and compromised foodstuff safety. Those aspects of environmental degradation most directly impacting human welfare have seen the strongest outcry from the public, resulting in both organised civil society activity and endless spontaneous protests. Today, environmental and food safety may constitute the most important threats to political stability. This chapter will outline relevant data on welfare issues relating to climate and environment in the broadest sense, and discuss State and media responses, new legislation, public opinion and the role of civil society organising. The chapter argues that China has come to an important juncture in its striving towards sustainable development, and that real change in environmental practices is questionable without simultaneous political change and a greater space for non-State actors. However, State–society relations remain ambiguous, hampering those ‘social forces’ that may contribute efficiently to reaching an environmental turning point, as well as hampering general public mobilisation for substantial improvements in environmental welfare. Finally, the chapter frames China’s present environmental health issues in a broader historical perspective, contending that the country is currently in a transitional state between inherent and modern perspectives on the environment, and that we must look beyond the shifting politico-economic arrangements in the contemporary era to appreciate the long-term processes in State–society–environment relations.