El­derly get­ting top pri­or­ity

Pres­i­dent Xi en­cour­ages more pri­vate-sec­tor in­vest­ment, fewer bar­ri­ers for ‘sun­rise in­dus­try’

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By CHEN­MENG­WEI chen­meng­wei@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The is­sue of el­derly care, once rarely touched by China’s top de­ci­sion-mak­ers, is get­ting un­prece­dented at­ten­tion from a long list of min­istries and even from Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

On Wed­nes­day, 25 min­istries, in­clud­ing the China Na­tional Com­mit­tee on Ag­ing, the Na­tional Devel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion and the Min­istry of Fi­nance, jointly is­sued a na­tional guide­line on how to im­prove the liv­ing en­vi­ron­ment to bet­ter meet the needs of the grow­ing num­ber of se­nior cit­i­zens.

The guide­line pro­poses build­ing a “safe, con­ve­nient and com­fort­able” en­vi­ron­ment for se­niors and to pro­vide them en­hanced ser­vices in trans­porta­tion, medicine and home care by 2025.

Wu Yushao, deputy di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of the China Na­tional Com­mit­tee On Ag­ing, said the im­prove­ments should be­gin with small things first, such as putting fold­able chairs on the sec­ond or third floor of a sixfloor build­ing with­out an el­e­va­tor so that se­niors can take a rest on their way home af­ter buy­ing veg­eta­bles mar­kets.

“Hav­ing a friendly en­vi­ron­ment for se­niors should not be a lux­ury,” Wu said. “It should be the stan­dard.”

Call­ing el­derly care a “sun­rise in­dus­try” on Tues­day at the 28th meet­ing of the Lead­ing Group for Over­all Re­form, which he heads, Pres­i­dent Xi said more pri­vate-sec­tor in­vest­ment and eas­ing of busi­ness bar­ri­ers should be en­cour­aged.

The mar­ket for el­derly care in China is al­ready huge — 3 tril­lion yuan ($446 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to the China Na­tional Com­mit­tee on Ag­ing. It in­cludes food, lodg­ing, home care, med­i­cal ser­vices and en­ter­tain­ment. The mar­ket is ex­pected to ex­pand at nearby to at least 5 2050.

In re­cent decades, es­pe­cially since the re­form and openingup, China has largely de­signed its ur­ban cities to meet the needs of the ma­jor­ity pop­u­la­tion — the young — to max­i­mize work ef­fi­ciency and devel­op­ment speed.

But the world’s most pop­u­lous na­tion is get­ting sil­ver fast. By the end of 2015, 222 mil­lionChi­nese res­i­dents were over age 60, ac­count­ing for 16.1 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, with the group grow­ing by 10 mil­lion ev­ery year, ac­cord­ing to the com­mit­tee on ag­ing.

The com­mit­tee pre­dicted that 400 mil­lion peo­ple will be over 60 by 2033. At that rate, one-third of China’s pop­u­la­tion will be se­niors in 2050. tril­lion yuan by

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