Four principal obstacles are impairing care for the elderly in
the countryside, said a senior advisor at a press conference held
today on the sidelines of the 10th National Committee of the
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top advisory body that is
holding its annual session in Beijing.
"China has become the most rapidly-aging country in the world.
As it stands, over 10 percent of China's population is over 60
years old. But in the next 50 years, this situation will be greatly
exacerbated," said Yang Kuifu, vice chairman of the Committee of
Population, Resources and Environment under the CPPCC National
According to Yang, four challenges stand in the way of
developing rural geriatric care. These are addressing the lack of a
social security system in rural China, relieving families from
needing to shoulder full care of their aged relatives, encouraging
reluctant farmers to join pension insurance schemes, and allowing
all elderly, disabled and childless farmers to benefit from the
"five guarantees" (food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial
"Another facet of the problem is presented by the millions of
farmers who flock to China's cities to look for work and to improve
the lives of their families remaining in the countryside. Their
children and parents are left behind, placing the additional
responsibility on the grandparents to raise their grandchildren,"
The aging of China's rural population has become a very real
issue. Around 85.57 million of China's old people living in the
countryside, constituting 65.82 percent of the country's total, are
not covered by the national social welfare system, do not receive
pensions or have access to adequate medical care.
According to figures from China's National Committee on Aging,
the number of people over 60 years of age will rise from the
current 147 million to top 174 million by 2010, then accounting for
one-eighth of China's total population. By 2020, this figure should
rise to 243 million, or one-sixth of the population.
At the press conference, Yang outlined several manners in which
the pressure on old people in rural areas could be alleviated. "A
new pension mechanism must be implemented while renewed attention
must be given to promote the basic subsistence allowance system and
new cooperative medical care system across rural areas," said
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Wu Nanlan, March 10, 2007)