China Plans To Use Blockchain Technology To Decentralize And Improve Social Assistance Programs

The Chinese government identified blockchain as a key component of its plans for upgrading social assistance programs in a recent policy paper released by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council on Tuesday.

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The paper addressed a variety of social assistance programs including special assistance for those with disabilities along with education, housing, and emergency relief programs. Authors reminded readers of the “people-centric” approach that should be taken when considering this work. It also set an ambitious deadline for the rollout of improved programming.

“By 2035, high-quality development of social assistance will be achieved, the results of reform and development will benefit the people in need more and more equitably, the safety net of people’s livelihood will be dense and reliable, and the overall goal of achieving socialist modernization will be basically met,” the paper read.

A key aspect of the party’s plans for reforming social assistance programs included deepening the role of decentralization and digitzing social assistance social security systems to promote connectivity across the nation. The plans highlighted that identifying those in need is the first step to providing assistance and urged state public officials undertaking social assistance work, as well as enterprises and institutions, grass-roots autonomous mass organizations, social organizations to report to higher government officials if there are barriers to providing assistance.

The paper emphasized the importance of one-door acceptance and collaborative processing, meaning that citizens could apply for aid in a variety of places and still receive assistance. Blockchain’s ability to store records securely while keeping them accesible means the technology could be useful in aiding government bodies to share documents across offices and branches.

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In order to speed the decentralization process, the country needs to accelerate service management mechanisms, according to the paper. It suggests promoting the use of modern information technologies including the Internet, big data, artificial intelligence, 5G networks and blockchain.

“Improve the system and mechanism, use modern information technology to promote the aggregation of rescue information, the coordination of rescue resources, and the improvement of rescue efficiency, so as to realize accurate rescue, efficient rescue, warm rescue, and smart rescue.”

The vision is for a platform where all social-assistance related data is stored so that it can be accessed and used by a variety of organizations in the field. It added that creating convenient access to social assistance is also important so creating access points on mobile phones may prove essential.

China has been a pioneer of implementing technological solutions in government with the nation’s leader Xi Jinping backing blockchain-based infrastructure to modernize the nation. In April, the country launched the Blockchain Service Network (BSN) allowing developers to easily access tools to develop blockchain-based applications. Some have speculated that the country’s drive for blockchain innovation comes from wanting to gain a first mover advantage to provide other nations with infrastructure and gain allies.

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The use of blockchain in social assistance programs is likely only the beginning. When the BSN launched in April leaders envisioned the service being used for smart city applications, data storage, and energy conservation efforts, among other projects.

By Emily Mason

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