Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

China try for closer families [The Age/New York Times]

China to join Singapore as one of few countries to make the ties that bind, legally binding.

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China try for closer families
Source – The Age, published January 31, 2011

ON THE eve of the Lunar New Year festival, when Chinese flood train stations, bus terminals and airports to reunite with loved ones, one Chinese ministry is proposing that the government mandate closer families.

Under a proposal submitted by the Civil Affairs Ministry to China’s State Council, adult children would be required by law to regularly visit their elderly parents. If they do not, parents can sue them.

”Before, the courts did not accept this kind of lawsuit,” Wu Ming, a deputy inspector for the ministry, told The Legal Evening News this month. ”But from now on, they will have to open up a case.”

The proposed amendment to a 1996 law on rights of the aged could be considered by the National People’s Congress, China’s government-appointed legislature, when it conducts its annual session in March. But Jing Jun, a sociology professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said it was unlikely to pass.

Other specialists on ageing issues hope it sails into law.

”I know the person who drafted this provision, and the first thing I told him was ‘Really nice move’,” said Ninie Wang, international director of the Gerontological Society of China, a Beijing-based non-profit research group. ”The whole society needs to start seeing that we need to give the elderly more care and attention.”

Concerns about how to care for China’s older people are growing as the nation’s population rapidly gets older, wealthier and more urbanised. China has the world’s third-highest elderly suicide rate, trailing only South Korea and Taiwan, according to Professor Jing, who compiled figures from the World Health Organisation and Taiwan.

The figures show a disturbing increase in suicides among the urban elderly in the past decade, a trend Professor Jing blames partly on urbanisation.

Once ensconced in intimate neighbourhoods surrounded by relatives and acquaintances, older people in China are increasingly moving into lonely high-rises and feeling forgotten, he said.

The notion that adult children should care for their aged parents is deeply ingrained in Chinese society.



Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Influence, People, Politics, Population, Social, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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