On Tuesday, Vice Premier Hui Liangyu called on governments at all levels to take active measures to address the issue of the aging of society and to protect the legal rights of the elderly.
Hui, also director of the National Committee on Aging, said China is experiencing a quickly expanding aging population, adding that an aging society has become an issue of "strategic importance for China's socioeconomic development."
"How to properly handle the issue of the aging is an imperative long-term task facing us," he said at the committee's meeting.
"The government will strive to improve the basic pension system, subsistence allowance system and medicare system in both urban and rural areas to ensure the basic living standards of the elderly," he said.
It will also support the growth of sectors that care for special needs of the elderly and welfare institutions for the aged, while looking for ways to "guide and encourage the elderly to contribute to the country's socioeconomic development," he said.
According to the China Elderly Association, senior citizens will account for 11.8 percent of the total population in 2020, up from 7 percent today. By mid-century, people aged over 60 are likely to exceed 400 million, and those older than 65 will exceed 300 million.
(Xinhua News Agency February 23, 2005)