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China’s New Law Reminds People to Visit the Elderly

Update Date: Jul 01, 2013 11:33 AM EDT

In Chinese culture, respecting your elders and caring for them are very important lessons that people learn at a very young age. Despite these life lessons that have been ingrained for so long, the country of China has decided to take matters into their own hands, once again blurring the lines between the private and public realms. In a new law starting Monday, family members must visit and care for their parents once they have aged. This new law, which is a revision to the Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People that was passed last December, states that adult children who live far away from their parents must take the time to visit them. Forgetting to visit one's parents could result in court time.

"Family members who live apart from their parents should visit often or send their regards to their parents," the new law writes according to The Telegraph.

People who live far away from their parents must now be guaranteed up to 20 days off by their employers, which the law states as home leave, to go and visit their parents. Not only are adult children expected to visit their aged parents, any form of violence or disrespect towards the elderly is unacceptable under this law as well. The lawmakers have identified verbal insults, discriminatory language, abandonment and physical torture to be punishable. On top of that, the law states that all seniors should enjoy as much freedom as possible in terms of their marital status. If their marital status changes at anytime, children must still continue to support and visit them. Although this law takes into account the health of the elderly, it does not consider the circumstances that their children face. For a large portion of the people in China, visiting their parents is difficult due to financial problem.

Despite these new attempts to protect the elderly with the number of abuse cases increasing slightly over the past few years, some experts are not sold on this new law. The biggest issue here is the execution of the law. If no one implements it or follows it, the law will only exist as a reminder for people to care for their elders.

"Guaranteeing adequate pensions and social welfare for the elderly should be the key points of the law as this is easier to implement," an expert on social security with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Yu Shaoxiang, said according to the Global Times.

According to the latest statistics reported by Xinhua News Agency, there are 185 million people who are older than 60-years-old in 2011. This number is around 13.7 percent of the country's total population. The China National Committee on Aging also reports that by 2053, people should expect a jump by 35 percent in the number of senior citizens over 60-years-old. 

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