Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 December 2010
China is at a turning point in the reform of its social welfare system due to new opportunities and pressures. First, China is in transition to a middle developed country. Fast economic growth has created more wealth for the government and society that could be invested in the social welfare of its citizens. Second, social problems and conflicts have accumulated, partly as a result of past social policies, which were residual only, as was common in Asia (Aspalter, 2006). These residual policies had the primary purpose of securing the economic and political interests of the nation, which were regarded as superior to the interests of individual citizens. The social costs of economic growth at the expense of human rights are widespread and often hidden. In this unsustainable situation, the Chinese public has called for fundamental reforms to China's social policies – not only policies aimed at resolving individual problems, but also reform of the basic principles of the social welfare system as a whole.