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Offspring who fail to visit parents could be punished

Updated: 2016-04-08 08:05
By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily)

Shanghai residents who fail to visit their elderly parents regularly may have their names added to a credit blacklist that could make it difficult for them to apply for jobs and loans, and even impact their eligibility for welfare.

The move is the latest the city has made to encourage people to frequently visit elderly parents and ensure they are cared for, both physically and mentally.

The recently amended Regulations on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly in Shanghai, which will take effect in May, was published on Wednesday.

The regulations reaffirm that family members who live apart from aged parents have a responsibility to visit them regularly and ensure they are cared for.

They also specify that offspring have an obligation to visit parents who live in nursing homes, and that facilities have the right to urge them to do so if they have not made an appearance for a month.

Official statistics show that the number of registered permanent residents in Shanghai who are older than 60 reached 4.36 million last year. It was the first time in China that more than 30 percent of a city's population was older than 60. Nationally, the latest figures show the proportion of over-60s was 15.5 percent in 2014.

Luo Peixin, deputy director of the law office of the Shanghai Municipal People's Government, said seniors who do not get regular visits can take relatives to court.

"If the court verdict mandates that the children meet their obligations and they still ignore the requirement, they will find their details recorded in the public credit information system, which will be a barrier for them in social and economic activities, such as opening a bank account or applying for a free admission card at Shanghai Library," Luo said.

Other convictions - such as for hit-and-run, drunken driving and even sneaking free rides on the subway - could also earn people an entry on the credit blacklist.

"More and more people reaching old age are parents who have a single child, so it becomes even more important for the child to regularly check on the parents' situation," said Zhou Wenshu, a 29-year-old Shanghai resident.

Statistics from the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau show that more than 80 percent of residents who have turned 60 since 2013 are parents of an only child. The number of elderly residents who lack regular family contact is also continuing to rise.

Usually, information stored in the credit system is kept for seven years, but some observers have suggested that the black marks for repeat offenders should remain longer, to act as a more powerful deterrent.

The requirement on offspring visits to elderly parents was enshrined in law in China in July 2013. A 77-year-old woman in Wuxi city, Jiangsu province, became the first in the country to use the law to sue her child for failing to make regular visits.

The court responded by ordering the woman's daughter and son-in-law to visit her at least every two months and to make extra visits on national holidays.


Offspring who fail to visit parents could be punished

(China Daily 04/08/2016 page5)

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