The tradition of respect China holds for its elderly became law on Monday, after the National People’s Congress passed legislation allowing elderly parents to sue their children for neglectful care.
The amended Law of Protection of Rights and Interested of the Aged does not specify how often children must visit or clarify penalties for those who do not – rather, the law will raise awareness for a growing need.
The number Chinese people age 60 and older is expected to increase in 2053 from 185 million to 487 million.
"It is mainly to stress the right of elderly people to ask for emotional support,” Xiao Jinming, a law professor at Shandong University, said. “We want to emphasize there is such a need.”
The law mandates that children must ensure that their elderly parents have daily financial and spiritual need met, as retirement homes in China are too costly for the average family. Still, the law is largely symbolic.
"Family members who live apart from their parents should often visit or send regards to their parents," the law reads, leaving citizens with questions on how the law may be enforced.
A commenter of the South China Post added that the intention is good, though the method is bad.
Commenters also noted that migrant workers would not be able to meet the law’s standards, considering it is often financially impossible to travel regularly.