China to make parental care legal obligation for children

China is considering to amend a law to make it mandatory for its citizens to visit their parents.

Last Updated: Jan 07, 2011, 21:38 PM IST

Beijing: Grappling with rapidly greying
population, many of whom live in isolation and poor
conditions, China is considering to amend a law to make it
mandatory for its citizens to visit their of elderly parents
and attend to their spiritual needs.

"Adult children of elderly parents will be required to
visit their parents regularly and must care for their
spiritual needs and cannot neglect or isolate them," according
to a draft amendment to the country`s law on elders, the
official media reported today.

Wu Ming, an official with the Ministry of Civil
Affairs, said visiting aged family members has been written
into the proposed draft amendment to the Law on Protection of
the Rights and Interests of the Aged. The law came into effect
in 1996, with no amendments since.

Under the amendment, elderly people who are ignored by
their children can go to court to claim their legal rights to
be physically and mentally looked after, the state-run China
Daily quoted Wu as saying.

When the draft amendment takes effect, the court can
no longer reject cases lodged by the elderly who lack proper
care from their children, Wu said adding spiritual consolation
is emphasised in the chapter stating that family members
cannot mentally ignore or isolate the aged, and children who
live independently should often visit their parents.

China which implements one child policy stringently is
grappling with difficult situation to take care of the rising
ranks of the old people whose numbers have already touched 167
million with people above 60 years in 2009 with 19 million
above the age of 80 years. Their numbers were set to cross 200
million in the next few years.

More than half of the people above 60 in China are
living alone and things are worse in cities, where about 70
per cent of the aged live alone,according to official figures.

Many from the younger generation plead inability to
take care of their parents as they had to work in far off
places often with meagre salary.

In traditional Chinese culture, it is a moral
requirement for children to take care of their aged parents,
Wu said, adding but now more and more children are defying the
tradition.

Social care for the elderly has been written into the
12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) in order to let most aged
enjoy social care, Li Liguo, minister of civil affairs, said
at a conference in November on improving the country`s elderly
care and service system.

China currently has more than 38,000 nursing homes
with nearly 2.7 million beds and more than 2.1 million aged
receiving care, according to the ministry.

PTI