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Local Governments Urged to Look After Elderly
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Chinese Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu Tuesday urged various departments of local governments at all levels to have good cooperation in coping with China's aging society.

Hui called for local governmental departments at a national conference held on Tuesday to attach great importance to establishing an old-age service system in their working agenda.

"The establishment and improvement of the social old-age service system should be a key element in the work," he said at the conference.

The number of people above 60 years old has reached 143 million in China.

Hui, also head of the national work committee on aging, said the existing public health system and community services could not meet the full needs of country's senior citizens.

Hui called for quickening the establishment of the old-age service system, solving the difficulties of senior citizens, protecting their legal rights and interests and mobilizing the whole society to carry forward the traditional virtues of respecting senior citizens.

Efforts by all social circles including governments at all levels should be mobilized in providing better services to senior citizens, Hui said.

According to a report recently released by the committee, the aging population in China is growing by 3.02 million annually and China's elderly population is expected to hit 437 million by 2051, when three out of 10 Chinese people will be over 60.

In 2004, expenditure on social welfare for the elderly population reached 350.2 billion yuan (US$42 billion), up 65.5 percent from 2000, according to the committee. Welfare fees for retirees as well as medical insurance funds also saw big increases.

(Xinhua News Agency March 1, 2006)

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