BEIJING, Dec. 8 -- Unlike measures taken during the Asian financial crisis 11 years ago, more attention is focused on improving people's living standards in the Chinese government's recent 4 trillion yuan (584 billion U.S. dollars) economic stimulus package, experts said.
The package, unveiled early last month, included 280 billion yuan in spending for low-income housing projects, 370 billion yuan for improving people's living standards and infrastructure in rural areas and 40 billion yuan for health and education programs.
A total of 1.8 trillion yuan will go to construction of railways, highways, airports and power grids.
It also included 350 billion yuan for ecological and environmental projects, 160 billion yuan for technological innovation and one trillion yuan for reconstruction in regions worst hit by the May 12 earthquake.
The frequent appearance of "improving people's living standard" in the government's recent statements indicated a mind-set shift of China's policy makers towards more sustainable development, analysts said.
Zhang Hanya, a senior researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told Xinhua on Monday that the stimulus package would greatly benefit the public either in a direct or indirect way.
"The investment pooled into low-income housing, medical care and education will improve the Chinese welfare directly. Massive spending on infrastructure, transport, after-quake reconstruction and other areas would bring indirect benefits to the public," Zhang said.
Of the 100 billion yuan added to the fourth quarter central budget, 7.5 billion yuan was allocated for low-rent and affordable apartments.
Another 4.4 billion yuan would be spent before the end of this year to improve school buildings and add teaching facilities in central and western China, which are less developed than the coastal regions in the east.
More than one million students in more than 2,000 schools would benefit from it, according to China's Ministry of Education.
The investments on railways, airports and other infrastructure projects, which accounted for 45 percent of the package, would help boost employment and increase people's earning, said Bai Jingming, deputy director of the Fiscal Science Research Institute of the Ministry of Finance.
The government decided to increase the basic retirement pension for enterprise retirees by 10 percent from Jan. 1 in 2009. The move gives them about 200 more yuan per month.
"This will not only help to enhance the residents' livelihood, but also raise their consumption capacity. Some rich families would not care too much about 200 yuan, but many low-income families would have more meat or fish in their main course for dinner every day," Zhang said.
"This is a virtuous circle of economy and will become the engine to boost the next round of economic growth," said Cao Jianhai, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.