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Caring for the aged a shared responsibility

By Wu Yixue | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-08 07:24
Seniors participate in a Chongyang Festival ceremony in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Monday. The event, also called the Double Ninth Festival, celebrates filial piety. [XU YU / XINHUA]

Editor's Note: On Sunday, the day before the annual Double Ninth Festival, a traditional Chinese festival that falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month and focuses on good health and a long life, President Xi Jinping replied to a letter sent to him by the 30 members of a senior citizens volunteer group in the Macao Special Administrative Region, expressing his cordial greetings and wishing them a long and healthy life. China Daily reporter Wu Yixue comments:

China is facing an accelerating aging population as well as a series of ensuing economic and social problems, which, if not well addressed, will seriously hamper the otherwise smooth development of the country. Statistics show that by the end of 2017 there were 240.9 million people over the age of 60 in China and 158.31 million people over the age of 65, respectively 17.3 percent and 11.4 percent of its total population, both increasing by 0.5 percentage points from a year earlier. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be 248 million people aged over 60, of whom 30.67 million will be over the age of 80. By 2025, the elderly population will total 300 million, making China a super-aged country.

The country has introduced a two-child policy for all couples nationwide as part of its efforts to offset the impacts of its growing elderly population and the lower-than-expected birth rate in recent years. But with the establishment of full basic medical coverage, the improvement of people's living conditions and significant breakthroughs achieved in the treatment of critical illnesses in recent years, the average life span of Chinese people increased to 77 years in 2018 and it is expected to increase in the years to come. Although welcome, this will further add pressure to the country's already-overburdened medical and old age facilities. At the same time, the pension burden has also become increasingly heavy for local governments in recent years.

The Chinese nation has a long tradition of respecting and caring for its elderly. And it behooves all of us to work with the government to care for them.

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