Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu on Thursday urged local governments
to be mindful of the severe challenges posed by the country's
burgeoning aging population.
China is the only country with more than 100 million people aged
over 60 in the world and the country's economy is not well prepared
for a rapidly expanding aging population, Hui said at a national
By the end of 2005, China had nearly 144 million people over the
age of 60, accounting for 11 percent of its population. The number
of elderly people is increasing by three percent a year.
The ratio between China's working population and its retirees
has dropped from 10:1 in 1990 to 3:1 in 2003. The figure is
expected to reach 2.5:1 in 2020.
Hui, also head of the national work committee on aging, said
that China's current pension system, medical care system and social
service sectors cannot meet the demands of all senior citizens.
"Society hasn't paid enough attention to the seriousness of the
problem," he said.
He instructed local governments to work out plans to enhance the
social security network, expedite infrastructure construction,
improve social services for elderly people, enrich their cultural
life and guarantee their rights and interests.
He was particularly concerned about aging problems in rural
areas, saying that a pension mechanism should be explored and the
basic subsistence allowance system and new cooperative medical care
system in rural areas should be promoted.
A pilot program providing cooperative medical care in rural
areas has been operating in some regions of China since 2003. By
last June, the program had been extended to 1,399 counties,
covering 495 million rural people or 73 percent of the elderly in
The central government has required local governments to give
preferential treatment to people over the age of 70, who are part
of the new medical care program.
Statistics show that 175 million people were enrolled in pension
plans across China last year. More than 43.6 million retirees are
By the end of 2005, China had 1.5 million beds in various care
centers for the elderly. The government said it will add 2.2
million beds for the aged in rural areas and 800,000 for those in
cities within the next four years.
(Xinhua News Agency February 2, 2007)