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Man, 121, tops list of oldest people in China
By Wang Hongyi (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-10-08 08:37

SHANGHAI: A list of China's 10 oldest people was announced for the first time by the China Gerontology Association on Monday, ahead of the Seniors Day Tuesday.

The 121-year-old Sadiq Sawut from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region topped the list as the oldest man, while Maihefu Zihan, from the same region, was the oldest woman at 118.

Xinjiang has the highest proportion of centenarians in the country, with 1,413 people aged 100 years or older, or 73 in every 1 million people.

The national average is around 23 in 1 million.

The Metropolitan Morning Post based in Urumqi, Xinjiang reported that when Zihan heard the news, she stopped eating her dumplings to give the thumbs up.

Her son, Maierdan, said she likes talking, even with her 18-month-old great grand daughter.

Her favorite food includes beef, mutton, bananas and sunflower seeds, the newspaper said.

With an average age of 117, China's 10 most venerable citizens have lived through the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, making them the most telling witnesses of China's changes, the organizers of the ranking said.

The age-hailing event was held in Rugao, Jiangsu province, a well-known home of longevity with more than 6,300 90-year-olds and 251 100-year-olds.

From July, the association gathered a list of 272 seniors aged 100 or more, compiling lists of the country's 10 oldest women and 10 oldest men.

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Head of the association Li Bengong said a peaceful mind, harmonious family and good environment were key to longevity.

China now has 153 million people aged 60 or above, 11 percent of the total population.

Chinese life expectancy has increased to 72 years, up from 35 in 1949, according to an earlier report.

Rapidly increasing numbers of aged citizens poses great challenges to society as financial support and facilities for elderly remain limited.

As a major strategic problem affecting economic and social development in the country, the government seeks to reflect the traditional values of respect and care for the elderly, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu, also head of the National Committee on Ageing, said earlier.