Grown children in China must visit their parents or potentially face fines or jail, a new law that came into effect on Mondaysays.
China’s new ‘Elderly Rights Law’ deals with the growing problem of lonely elderly people by ordering adult children to visit their ageing parents.
The law says adults should care about their parents ‘spiritual needs’ and ‘never neglect or snub elderly people’.
The regulation has been ridiculed by tens of thousands of Chinese web users.
Many across China are questioning how the law could be enforced, since it fails to spell out a detailed schedule dictating the frequency with which children should make parental house calls.
“Those who live far away from parents should go home often,” it says.
However, that does not mean the law is toothless. Instead, it serves as an ‘educational message’ to the public, while also serving as a starting point for law suits, explained Zhang Yan Feng, a lawyer with Beijing’s King & Capital Law Firm.
“It’s hard to put this law into practice, but not impossible,” Zhang explained. The question of how to deal with ageing parents is a mounting problem in China.
According to Chinese government statistics, more than 178 million people in China were 60 years or older in 2010. By 2030, that figure will double.
But while Internet users generally express concern for elderly people -- who are highly respected in the close-knit Chinese family unit -- many took to China’s Twitter-like microblogs to criticise the new measures.
“A country actually legislates respecting its parents?” said one of the eight million people to comment on the story on Sina Weibo.
“This is simply an insult to the nation.” Another one said: “The government uses legislation to protect the elderly, but in reality it is just to put all the blame on to their children. The government should have thought of how they would address this problem when it brought in the one-child policy.”
“Family bonds should be based on spontaneous emotions,” argued one weibo user. “It’s funny to make it part of a law; it’s like requiring couples to have a harmonious sex life after marriage.”
487 mn The number of people aged above 60 in China by the year 2053