Wandering China

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No rest for the deceased [in Beijing] [Global Times]


Global Times, Beijing: Falling on April 3 this year, the Qingming Festival (清明节) is the time of the year when the Chinese visit the burial grounds of their ancestors. This year, 2 million people were out sweeping tombs. On the back of that, it seems Beijing residents are seeking new ground in the neighbouring province of Hebei (4 times cheaper), unhappy with the size (of tombs) and fengshui of government provided funeral services,

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No rest for the deceased
By Zhang Zhilong
Source – Global Times, published April 4, 2012

Beijing residents are dissatisfied with government-provided funeral services and have sought new ground to bury their dead in Hebei Province the vice chairman of Beijing Funeral Association said Wednesday.

Yesterday was Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-sweeping Day, when many Chinese families honor their dead. The Beijing Times reported that around 2 million people were out sweeping tombs in the capital over the last three days.

Jiang Xiaogang, vice chairman of Beijing Funeral Association told the Beijing Times yesterday that there are inexpensive tombs in Beijing, but citizens are reluctant to use them and care too much about size and feng shui.

The paper reported that Beijing residents prefer to pay more or go to Hebei Province rather than accept economical funerals promoted by the government.

One staff member of a commercial tomb in Hebei told the Procuratorial Daily that an average tomb in the province costs 5,000 yuan ($794), and business is good because they are better at promoting a “good environment and feng shui.”

Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau initiated a project in 2010 to provide low cost funeral services, including locations to scatter ashes.

Changqingyuan, a nonprofit cemetery in Beijing outside the East Fifth Ring Road for local residents, was put into practice in 2009. Its memorial wall can accommodate 2,000 urns, at a maximum cost of 2,000 yuan each, however three quarters of the wall remains unoccupied, China National Radio reported yesterday.

The tradition of burying ashes is still popular, and many people purchase land to fulfill this wish.

According to Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau, there are 33 authorized commercial cemeteries in Beijing.

A survey conducted by the Procuratorial Daily yesterday showed that the average price of a tomb is over 20,000 yuan. At the well-known Wan’an Cemetery prices even reach 230, 000 yuan per square meter.

Xinhua highlighted the difference in price in a report on April 2 which focused on two cemeteries either side of Chaobai River [the boundary between Beijing and Hebei]. The price for a grave on the Beijing side was 36,000 yuan, but only 9,000 yuan in Hebei.

“It is just impossible that people are turning to Hebei because Beijing is too expensive to bury the dead,” said Jiang, adding that about 80,000 people die in Beijing every year.

“If everyone got a one-square-meter tomb, Beijing would become a graveyard within years,” he added.

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Filed under: Culture, Domestic Growth, global times, Government & Policy, Lifestyle, Social

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