China tells fam­ily mem­bers to visit their el­derly

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - BOOKS - — AFP

The le­gal changes re­flect the chal­lenge China faces, in the fu­ture, in deal­ing with an in­creas­ingly age­ing so­ci­ety af­ter three decades of lim­it­ing cou­ples to a sin­gle child.

Bei­jing: China has passed a new law stip­u­lat­ing that fam­ily mem­bers should pay reg­u­lar vis­its to their el­derly rel­a­tives, ac­cord­ing to the government’s of­fi­cial web­site.

The rul­ing, ap­proved by China’s Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress on Fri­day, is part of a package of amend­ments to the Pro­tec­tion of the Rights and In­ter­ests of the El­derly leg­is­la­tion and will come into force on July 1, 2013.

“Fam­ily mem­bers who live sep­a­rately from the el­derly should visit them of­ten,” the law says, adding that “em­ploy­ers should guar­an­tee the right to home leave in ac­cor­dance with rel­e­vant reg­u­la­tions”.

The law men­tions no spe­cific penal­ties for those who fail to visit fre­quently, nor elab­o­rates on what “of­ten” means.

But it does state that if the rights and in­ter­ests of the el­derly are vi­o­lated, they or some­one on their be­half can seek of­fi­cial help or file a law­suit.

The wide- rang­ing law in­cludes clauses cov­er­ing in­trafam­ily con­flicts re­gard­ing sup­port obli­ga­tions, hous­ing and as­sets. It stip­u­lates pun­ish­ments for peo­ple who abuse the el­derly, fail to sup­port them and in­ter­fere in their free­dom to marry.

The le­gal changes re­flect the chal­lenge China faces in deal­ing with an in­creas­ingly age­ing so­ci­ety af­ter three decades of lim­it­ing cou­ples to a sin­gle child.

The coun­try’s mod­erni­sa­tion, rapid eco­nomic growth and in­creas­ing urbanisation have also put pres­sure on tra­di­tional fam­ily life.

The of­fi­cial Xin­hua news agency said Fri­day that the law was amended “amid government ef­forts to find com­pre­hen­sive so­lu­tions to is­sues fac­ing the el­derly pop­u­la­tion, as the num­ber of Chi­nese se­nior ci­ti­zens has grown rapidly in re­cent years”.

At the end of 2011, there were more than 184 mil­lion peo­ple above the age of 60, Xin­hua said, cit­ing of­fi­cial fig­ures, ac­count­ing for 13.7% of the pop­u­la­tion.

Leg­is­la­tor Yu Jian­wei told re­porters that China’s el­derly pop­u­la­tion is ex­pected to ex­ceed 200 mil­lion in 2013, ac­cord­ing to Xin­hua.

The United Na­tions es­ti­mates that that by 2050 some 30% of Chi­nese will be 60 or over, ver­sus 20% world­wide and 10% in China in 2000.

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