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China must hasten bid to build a secure society for senior citizens

Date:2021-10-15 00:00:00


Elders over 80 years of age enjoy a birthday party at Shuangqiao village, Deqing county of Huzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, on Oct 13, 2021.

[Photo by Wang Zheng for]



Thursday marked China's Chongyang or Double Ninth Festival, which falls on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, and is traditionally a day for paying respect to the elderly. While wishing all senior citizens a happy, healthy and long life, President Xi Jinping outlined what the country must do for them.


Governments at all levels should attach great importance to the work related to senior citizens; implement the national strategy of actively dealing with the aging population and speed up efforts to improve the social security system, old-age service system and health support system to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of senior citizens and enable them to share the fruits of reform and development, Xi said.


According to the seventh national census, China had 264 million people aged 60 or above in 2020, accounting for 18.70 percent of the total population. The country is expected to become a moderately aging society during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, underlining the urgent need to build sound social security and old-age service systems.


Infrastructure in old residential areas should be improved and the renovation of nursing homes for the elderly should be accelerated. In order to ensure that the fruits of improved infrastructure can be enjoyed also by senior citizens, the country needs to increase institutional innovation, policy supply and financial investment. The gap between urban and rural infrastructure also needs to be narrowed.


However, just building hardware that is suitable for senior citizens is not enough to build a senior citizen-friendly society. It is equally important to bridge the digital divide for the elderly. This year's Government Work Report for the first time talked of solving elderly people's digital problems, namely promoting intelligent services to meet their needs, and ensuring that smart tools do not cause obstacles in their daily lives.


Relevant State departments have already promulgated guideline documents to promote the transformation of internet applications so that travel, medical treatment, internet-based taxi-hailing and other services become easier for senior citizens.


Certainly, more improvements are needed. To what extent a senior citizen-friendly society is built will depend on how their legitimate rights and interests are protected. Some cheap travel services offered by travel agencies to senior citizens and other investment and wealth management traps should be looked into.


Given its rapidly aging society, China should race against time to ensure that hundreds of millions of its senior citizens lead a happy, healthy and secure life.