Poor rural elderly deserve attention
Updated: 2006-12-03 10:52
Those surveyed reported an average annual income of 650 yuan (US$82).
Eighty-five percent of them still toiled in the fields and 97 percent managed
Zhai spent 100,000 yuan (US$12,500) to finance the
survey, which was conducted by seven retired people from Heilongjiang's
provincial capital Harbin. "I'm from the countryside myself. It's painful to see
some peasants suffer poverty and loneliness after decades of hard work."
At least half of the young farmers they surveyed were apathetic to their
parents, said Zhai.
A child gives some coins to an elder
woman begging in a street in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province in
this undated file photo.
"I know a man in his 90s. His six children
collectively give him 30 to 50 yuan a month, but no one offers to accept him in
their home. No one would be there to help him if he had an accident or fell
ill," Zhai said.
In the national capital Beijing, more than 2,000 rural
parents sued their children for support last year, according to the city's
Intermediate People's Court.
But the majority of farmers avoid taking
their unfilial sons and daughters to court fearing a loss of face.
FILIAL PIETY CRUCIAL TO SOCIAL HARMONY
he proposed to the provincial legislature that local governments and NGOs should
raise more funds to build senior citizens' centers and offer better pension
schemes to farmers, Zhai said he personally believes the best place for a
retired life is at home, while children should be caring for the elderly.
"As a developing country, China cannot yet sponsor pension schemes for
all the rural poor. Besides, Chinese traditionally value family life and elderly
people tend to feel abandoned when they have to move out," he said.
calls for a revival of traditional values such as filial piety and respect for
the elderly, which are essential in China's building of a harmonious society, he
said. "It's a shame that the younger generation of Chinese tend to dote on their
children, but neglect their parents."
In his proposal to the provincial
congress in March, Zhai proposed amendments to China's criminal law and law on
senior citizens' rights, suggesting harsher penalties for those who physically
or mentally abused elderly people.
Though the legislator saw no
immediate results from his proposals, he's happy to see some clear gestures to
remedy the situation.
In several Chinese cities, officials have to prove
they are model sons and daughters to have any chance of promotion.
city government of Jinchang, northwest China's Gansu Province, interviews the
family, friends and neighbors of officials up for promotion to test their
respect for parents.
The same requirement is applicable in Hejin city in
Shanxi Province and Daming county in Hebei Province.
Chinese schools are
also embracing a revival of traditional values. Preschoolers are taught to chant
old-time classics on virtue, including respect for teachers and parents, care
for youngsters and dos and don'ts on different social occasions. Several
universities and colleges have listed traditional Chinese culture as a mandatory
course for students who are increasingly enamoured with what they perceive as a
Insiders say the State Administration of Radio, Film
and Television will encourage domestic producers to highlight filial piety in
films and television dramas by subsidizing 300,000 to 800,000 yuan (US$37,500 to
|Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours