The birth of a baby boy in Beijing
early Thursday marks the day of 1.3 billion people in China, which
might have come four years earlier, and it shows that China has
achieved favorable results in its efforts toward a low birth
But, population officials and
demographers still have much to worry about, such as the country's
increasing aging population.
It is estimated that the proportion
of people aged 60 or older in China will rise from 7 percent now to
11.8 percent in 2020. And there will be more than 400 million
people aged 65 and older and more than 100 million aged 80 and
older by the middle of this century.
In 2000, Beijing had 1.7 million
people aged 60 or older, who took up 12.54 percent of the city's
The aging population poses a serious
challenge to the support for the elderly, social security, social
welfare and services, Chen Yi, vice-chairman of the Beijing
Municipal Old-age Association, told a recent forum on population
and development in Beijing.
Chen said that in 2000 every 100
working persons supported 28 people, including 17 children and 11
aged people in Beijing. In comparison with 1990, the number of
children supported by every 100 working persons dropped by 12 but
the number of the aged being supported rose by two.
Chen said this reflected increasing
pressure on supporting the elderly people in Beijing.
What is gratifying is that China has
achieved marked progress in supporting and caring for the elderly
people in recent years.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs
launched in 2001 a "Starlight Project" to build community-based
services for elderly people. The government has spent 13.5 billion
yuan (US$1.63 billion) over the past three years in building 32,490
service stations, where elderly people can read books, play cards,
do painting, practice calligraphy, have exercises and attend
lessons specifically for aged people.
Many Chinese cities have adopted
preferential policies, under which elderly citizens can have free
visits to parks and free bus rides and enjoy priority to visit
doctors, museums and cultural centers.
China promulgated the law on
safeguarding the rights and interests of senior citizens in
Apart from government efforts, an
increasing number of volunteers have joined in the efforts to
support and care for the elderly people.
In Beijing, there are 300,000
volunteers who have established one-to-one relationship with needy
elderly people and provide regular services ranging from washing
clothes, cleansing houses and chatting with the seniors.
Some elderly people choose to spend
their remaining years at "homes for the elderly" run by the
government, where they are well fed and cared for. In east China's
metropolis of Shanghai, one out of six elderly people want to live
in "old people homes" with the hope of easing the burden on their
A survey shows that 16.8 percent of
the income of urban senior citizens comes from their children.
Experts say that it is necessary to
carry on the fine tradition of the Chinese nation that young people
support and take care of the elderly members of their families.
(Xinhua News Agency January 7,