First Stop Beijing - a travelling exhibition in China

Event: Social Justice and Trade Unions

“First stop” of the travelling exhibition “With the Future in Mind – An Illustrated History of Social Security in Germany” was the entrance hall of the New University Library at Renmin University.

Michael Sommer and Prof. Zheng Gongcheng

Not only China’s Economy has developed rapidly in the last decades, also the formation of social security systems has increasingly gathered pace. The breakaway of family-based solidarity structures, Chinas basic social net, which ensured protection during times of planned economy, as well as the rapid aging of the society leave great parts of the society unprotected to major risks of life. One milestone in the construction of a state-organized social insurance system took place in July 2011, when China’s first social insurance law was passed. Building a social safety net, which prevents individuals from life risks, is seen as a central component in securing social peace.

In contrast to China’s rather short social history, Germany looks back on a process of building a social security system and social dialogue for more than 150 years. Germany is sometimes seen as a “social world power” in China, therefore Germany’s experiences are observed with much interest.

“With the Future in Mind – An Illustrated History of Social Security in Germany” is the name of the travelling exhibition of the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), which was presented in cooperation with the Chinese Institute of Social Security of Renmin University and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung of Germany and is being supported by the German Embassy in Beijing. During the opening of the exhibition and the roundtable discussion in Beijing, both, Mr. Michael Sommer, who was the chairperson of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) at the time, and Mr. Jörg Asmussen, State Secretary in the BMAS, were actively involved.

The project includes a roundtable discussion on a certain aspect of social security to each official opening of the exhibition. One or two German experts will attend each roundtable discussion to give an input on German situations while Chinese experts will contribute to illuminate the Chinese counterpart.

During the first roundtable discussion in Beijing a roundtable discussion was held on the topic of the development of social security in the mirror of social debate in China and Germany. The journey through China therefore started off with a retrospect view on the emergence of the social security systems in China and Germany.

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