Height limit raised as kids get taller
More Beijing pre-school children may ride buses and get into parks for free if the city changes the height restriction from 110 to 120 centimetres.
The old fare exemption applied to any child under 110 centimetres.
Most cities in China have had the 110-centimetre policy for more than 50 years as part of the country's welfare policy to junior citizens.
However, the fare exemption standard has been challenged by the fact that children are growing taller and parents are having to buy bus tickets for them at a younger age.
"My daughter is just five years old and is still attending kindergarten," complained Li Qing, who has to pay about 30 yuan (US$3.6) for a 50 per cent discount entrance ticket to the Summer Palace because her daughter is about 5 centimetres taller than the height limit.
"The 110-centimetre standard is outdated to keep pace with the children's healthy physical development," said Quan Zhongmin, a delegate to the Beijing Municipal People's Political and Consultative Conference.
Well-fed children with average higher height raise the new fare question.
Wang Mei, a source from the National Physical Development Office under the General Administration of Sport, said that for six-year-old boys in Beijing, the average height was 118.3 centimetres in 1995, 118.5 in 1998 and 121.9 in 2000.
For girls of the same age, the average was 117.4 centimetres in 1995, 117.8 in 1998 and 121.63 in 2000, according to the survey.
"Generally speaking, Beijing and Shanghai take lead for the children's average height," Wang said, adding that such general surveys are usually conducted every five years. The latest statistics for 2000 to 2005 are to be released to the public next year, she said.
Gao Zhiqing, a scholar with the Beijing Municipal Physical Education Research Institute, said children are taller thanks to better nutrition, which is true among children across China.
Liaoning Province in Northeast China took the lead in adopting 130 centimetres as the charge-free bottom line in October 2002, followed by Central China's Hebei Province in July 2003 and East China's Zhejiang Province last November.
Also, children under the height of 130 centimetres in Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan Province, can ride buses and get into parks with no charge since December 2003.
"We launched the investigation and research work about two years ago for the adjustment of the charge-free height limit," said Liu Enquan, an official with the Beijing Municipal Transportation Committee.
(China Daily 05/19/2005 page3)