China is considering amending a law to compel children to visit their elderly parents and care for them. Under a draft legal amendment, elderly people could go to court to claim their right to be physically and mentally looked after by their children.
Concerns about how to care for China’s older people are growing as the nation’s population rapidly gets older, wealthier and more urbanized. China has the world’s third highest elderly suicide rate, trailing only South Korea and Taiwan.
Adult children would be required by law to visit their elderly parents. If they do not, parents can sue them.
Liu Zhengua 36 years, Technical Engineer working with a Chinese construction company in Rwanda, says many adult children work outside their hometowns and have little opportunity to visit their parents due to all-consuming jobs and few days off.
“It is just right to promote it, but it’s a tragedy that we now have to use a law to impose it,” Zhengua says.
He stresses that China has 167 million citizens over age 60, half of whom live alone without children and 20 million of whom cannot take care of themselves.
“In traditional Chinese culture respect for one’s parents and ancestors is one of the paramount virtues,” Zhengua adds.
Cai Shang 40 years, the Chef at the Chinese Restaurant in Kimihurura said that law is not so important since most of the Chinese youngsters have moved to cities in search of jobs, leaving behind their parents.
“It would be better to strengthen moral education than to force people to do something legally,” he argued.
Calixte Iyamuremye 42 years, a Special Hire taxi driver says that taking care of parents is part of Rwandan tradition but the country’s three-child policy and the trend of people moving away for work have put strain on the traditional family structure.
“It is very important for children to visit their aged parents because it creates a strong bond between them,” he says.
Nevertheless, Chinese authorities are trying to educate the youth about the need to care for their parents. The Ministry of Education has supported a resurgence of Confucian studies, which promote respect for the elders.
Decades of China’s one-child policy have left fewer workers supporting more and more elderly relatives. And while the number of nursing homes is growing, the authorities were recently alarmed by stories of old people dying unnoticed in their apartments.
The change is a proposed draft amendment to the Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Aged which came into effect in 1996.