China / Government

China mulls amending law to protect seniors' welfare

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-06-26 14:40

BEIJING - A draft revision to the law on protecting senior citizens' rights and interests was submitted to China's top legislature Tuesday, in the wake of an increasing aged population.

The bill was tabled for the first reading at the bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which runs from Tuesday to Saturday.

The law has not been revised since being enacted in 1996.

China's aged population has grown rapidly over the past 16 years, especially the populations of those who are of very old age or unable to support themselves, said Zhang Xuezhong, deputy director of the NPC Committee for Internal and Judical affairs, when elaborating on the bill at the session.

In 2010, 178 million people in China were 60 years of age and older, accounting for 13.26 percent of the total population, and the number will rise to 221 million by 2015, accounting for 16 percent of the total population, Zhang said.

China currently has more than 20 million people over 80 and about 33 million seniors who need assistance or nursing, he said.

Traditionally, Chinese would rely on families to support seniors. However, the size of families has fallen to an average of 3.1 persons per family, and supporting the elderly has become a bigger burden, he said.

Moreover, the migration brought on by the economic boom has left many parents at home without sons and daughters to rely on nearby, he added.

These new problems spurred the amendment to the law, he said.

The proposed revision redefined the family's role in supporting seniors as an important part, instead of a main part, as per the current law.

The bill added more articles on social support for seniors, including social insurance and community support.

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