Chinese law requires adults to visit their aging parents

A woman surnamed Chu (L), 77, attends the hearing of a case against her daughter and husband in Wuxi, east China's Jiangsu province. The daughter of a Chinese grandmother has been ordered to visit her at least once every two months, in the first case under a new law to protect the elderly.

A new Chinese law mandates that adults go home “often” to visit their parents so that their spiritual needs can be filled. The requirement essentially legislates a Chinese tradition that’s become more difficult to practice as hundreds of millions of Chinese leave home for the city.

Social critic and Tongji University professor Zhu Dake calls the law absurd.

“What type of penalty will you get if you don’t visit your parents?" Zhu asks. "Will you go to prison for a couple of years? Then you’ll visit your parents even less! This law is ridiculous.”

Zhu says China’s leaders need to make up their minds. On one hand, they’re pushing rural Chinese to migrate hundreds of miles away to the cities. On the other, they’re requiring the same people to return home and take care of their parents.

Other critics of the law say it’s a ploy by the government to pass on the responsibility of providing financial assistance to the elderly at a time when China’s government-funded social pension system is running low on money.

 

About the author

Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.

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