Xi Jinping cares for senior citizens
Chinese president Xi Jinping talks with some aged people in Hongkou district in Shanghai. [Photo: Xinhua]
Among the few publicly released photos of president Xi Jinping with his family, there are two that demonstrate the love and concern shown by the president for his parents. One shows Xi Jinping pushing a wheelchair in which his father was sitting and another shows him walking hand in hand with his mother. There's an old saying which goes "Honor and support the aged in other families as one does in one's own family." Xi Jinping has demonstrated that he cares about the elderly just as he cares about his own parents, especially now that China is facing mounting challenges posed by an aging population.
One of the issues that preoccupies the thoughts of Xi Jinping is how to help every Chinese citizen live in comfort in old age.
—"I am very well, thank you."
—"Enjoying good health and longevity is our common aspiration. I wish you happiness and a long life."
A conversation between Xi Jinping and a senior citizen in Shanghai. An aging population is recognized as a major social problem in China. It's estimated that the number of elderly people will reach its peak at 487 million by 2050, accounting for nearly 35 percent of the total population. Since he took office, Xi Jinping has always taken time from his busy schedule to make special trips to nursing homes and conduct field research into old-age caring projects.
Chinese president Xi Jinping gives food to aged people at a restaurant in Lanzhou, Gansu Province. [Photo: Xinhua]
On the eve of New Year's Day in 2014, Xi Jinping visited a nursing home in Beijing and had a heartfelt chat with a senior couple living there.
—"Why did you decide to come to the nursing home?"
—"It's very convenient for us to live here and medical services are easily available. For instance, we can have our blood glucose checked and get a drip in our bedroom. As for daily life, meals are provided each day and we have spare time to engage in various recreational activities. I even took part in a contest hosted by a TV station and won a big prize. "
—"Do your children often come over to see you? "
—"They come here once a week."
—"Do you often go back home ?"
—"I very rarely go back home and I'm not used to living at home now."
—"I wish you happiness!"
Shanghai was the first mega city in China to experience the problem of an aging society. In Hongkou district alone, 40 percent of the population are now over 60. Last November, Xi Jinping visited a day-care center at a nursing home there.
"The problem of aging is a major concern for the central government. We have already entered into an aging society. The happiness of the elderly is a vital part of the happiness of the people as a whole. Are the elderly being looked after properly? How about the health of the senior citizens? What you are doing here is very meaningful. I can tell they are happy. I wish you happiness and a long life."
Hongkou district has recently rolled out a three-year action plan to improve elder-care services. It's estimated that by the end of 2021, the number of day-care centers in the district will increase to 60 and the number of government-funded canteens will increase to 100. Meanwhile the number of housekeepers in day-care centers will reach 500.
Senior official Chen Yuebin from the Shanghai Bureau of Civil Administration says they are focusing on improving the quality of old-age service facilities.
"In the next three to four years , the number of old-age service facilities will be doubled and we will focus not only on the quantity but also the quality of the facilities. Our aim is to improve the livelihoods of the elderly."
Apart from big cities in the eastern regions, local authorities in the vast hinterland have also been exploring various ways to offer high-quality elderly-care services for local residents.