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