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December 28, 2012 / seasidepress.org

China cracks down

China cracks down on children who neglect their elderly parents. The national legislature in China is now requiring for adult children to  visit their parents. Elderly parents who feel ignored can now sue their kids. The law is partly a reflection of a cultural change in parts of the developing country. The traditional extended family in China is fading, according to the Associated Press. Historically in many Asian cultures, aging parents and grandparents live with a child or other family member. Sending a parent to a nursing home was just not acceptable — nor was it affordable for many families.

But that’s changing, particularly as China’s elderly population rapidly expands. Lately, the Chinese government has seen a growing number of reports of elder abuse. State media carried the story of one son in the well-to-do province of Jiangsu who reportedly forced his elderly mother to live in a pig pen for two years, according to the AP.
Elder-abuse cases in Hong Kong have risen 15% in the last two years, the South China Morning Post reported earlier this year. “Because of Chinese culture, elderly people are reluctant to reveal the disgraceful affairs of their families,” the director of one advocacy group, Against Elderly Abuse, told the newspaper. The new law doesn’t say how often children must visit their parents — and there may not be enough grounds here for any resulting lawsuit. But China now has nearly 167 million people over age 60, the BBC reports. While the law is partially intended to sustain the family unity that may be starting to fray in China, it’s also an attempt to ensure that the oldest and weakest members of society are cared for.

China orders children to visit their elderly parents

China has passed a law requiring adult children to visit their elderly parents regularly or risk being sued. The law does not specify how frequently such visits should occur, but warns that neglect could risk court action. Reports suggest a growing number of elderly Chinese have been abandoned or neglected by their offspring. Chinese state media reported earlier this month that a woman in her nineties had been forced by her son to live in a pigsty for two years. Newspapers are full of such stories, or of tales of children trying to seize their parents’ assets, or of old people dying unnoticed in their homes. The rapid pace of development in China has damaged the traditional extended family in China. An eighth of the population of China is over the age of 60, and more than half of them live alone.

Their children often leave home to work in the major industrial centers. The dislocation of families has been exacerbated by China’s one-child policy and a dramatic advance in life expectancy. China has nearly 167 million people aged over 60, and one million above 80. There are fewer working offspring to support more elderly relatives. There are few affordable alternatives, such as retirement or care homes, for the elderly or others unable to live on their own.

By Kim Peterson

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