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China Orders Grown Children to Visit Their Parents

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:

Photo from Sina Weibo

Photo from Sina Weibo

亲情本是人性,列入法律着实让人觉得可笑,就跟要求婚后夫妻要性生活和谐一样。

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:

重点在于这法律怎么落实,比如说给老人家里弄个指纹考勤机让孩子打卡?

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:

社保基本只能保障公务员,大部分普通老百姓都将老无所依

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 :

法律不能片面强调公民义务,而弱化政府职责。

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]:

立法推行孝道,固然有强制子女的效用存在,但若强大的外在压力无法减轻,这种无奈的“孝道”究竟有多少真情实意?而法律的尊严又能剩下多少?

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?

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