Senior citizens in China are expected to enjoy a better life in the near future, according to a 10th five-year plan for aged people (2001-05) released by the State Council, the Chinese cabinet.
All provincial governments are urged to "earnestly implement the plan'' so as to create a favorable living condition for the elderly.
According to official figures, the number of people over 60 years of age is estimated to reach 280 million by 2025 and 400 million by 2050.
The aim of the plan is to establish a system allowing senior citizens to receive satisfactory welfare services and required medical treatment, enjoy entertainment activities, continue learning and find opportunities to contribute to society.
A major principle stressed in the plan is establishing a social security system for seniors that adapts to the requirements of a socialist market economy.
The plan targets five sectors in which Chinese senior citizens will enjoy better services: economic support, medical care, daily life and cultural activities, and the guarantee of legal rights.
Specifically, China needs to build a sound system of providing economic support to senior citizens, through the combined efforts of governments, society, family and individuals.
The lives of senior citizens will be improved in accordance with the country's economic and social development.
In urban areas, governments at all levels should strive to promote and perfect the social security system, thus ensuring that senior citizens can receive their pensions on time and in the full amount.
In rural areas, governments will further strengthen the co-operation between society and the family by providing adequate economic support to aged farmers.
As for medical care, both public and private medical institutions are encouraged to provide better services for the seniors, as the traditional publicly-funded medical care system has been gradually phased out.
Local governments should also build a system geared to provide economic support to the poor in paying for medical treatment, according to the plan.
Other medical services, such as health consultations and disease prevention, are also expected to be improved in the following years.
According to the plan, governments at all levels should make full use of economic resources to accelerate care for senior citizens by developing long-term plans in co-ordination with local economic development policies and clearly define the duties of appropriate officials.
Although ambitious goals have been set to improve the lives of seniors, much attention still needs to be paid to the obstacles ahead.
China's fast-growing population of senior citizens requires abundant financial and labor resources, said experts.
(China Daily 08/14/2001)