China has put into effect a new law this week requiring grown children to visit their parents “frequently”.
It is strong tradition in China to respect the elderly and take care of parents as they get older, but modern lifestyles has meant that young people leave home for their own love and career. The new law says adults should care about their parents “spiritual needs” and “never neglect elderly people”, but it doesn't specify how often they need to visit the parents or what punishment they will receive if they fail to abide.
The law is designed as China's population ages rapidly due to the one-child policy. The journal reported that more than 14 percent of China’s population, or 194 million people, are over 60 years old, according to the most recent figures from the National Bureau of Statistics. By 2030, that figure will double.
Moreover, since 2012, China’s pension system has been in crisis with a shortfall of 2.9 trillion US dollars. Young Chinese are worried that they are being asked to support government retirees.
The new law has triggered ridicule on China's most popular microblogging website Sina Weibo, with many quipping that the enforcement of the law is questionable and visiting parents should be a moral issue to be encouraged rather than a law that should be enforced. Some complained that they can't get enough time off from work to visit their parents even if they wanted to, while others thought that the law was introduced to make up for China's brewing pension issue.
Online personality “Zhuomo Xiansheng” wrote [zh] sarcastically:
Family bonds should be based on spontaneous emotions. It's funny to make it part of a law; it's like requiring couples to have a harmonious sex life after marriage.
Lawyer Yang Lei echoed [zh] the same sentiment:
The question is how to enforce the law? For example, give the parents a fingerprint attendance machine?
“Yu linfeng” speculated[zh] China's unfair social security is one of the reasons for introducing the law:
Social security is mostly for the civil servants, most ordinary people don't have any much pension to rely on.
TV host Cao Baoying thought [zh] that the law is a way for the government to avoid its own responsibility :
By introducing the law, [the government is] emphasizing the one-sided civic duty, while weakening the government responsibilties.
An ifeng news commentary piece concluded [zh]:
Introducing the law to promote filial piety can be effective in forcing children to visit their parents, but if their external pressure can not be reduced, how meaningful is the helpless “filial piety”? How are we supposed to feel about the dignity of the law?