Govt urged to take care of parents who lose child

Updated: 2013-08-06 00:44

By He Dan (China Daily)

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More than 1,700 people have signed petition to revise family planning law

More than 1,700 parents who have lost an only child urged China's top legislature to revise the family planning law to enable them to receive compensation from the government, according to a joint letter released by the group on social media.

Jiang Li, one of the online petition's organizers, said bereaved parents who obeyed the family planning policy "have sacrificed their happiness".

Govt urged to take care of parents who lose child

Student volunteers in Qingdao, Shandong province, make dumplings at the home of an elderly woman surnamed Gao who lost her son in an accident. They visit her on a regular basis to help her with housework and chat with her.Liu Jishun / for CHINA DAILY

The National People's Congress, China's highest legislative body, should amend the law to ensure the government pays for their loss, she proposed.

The 59-year-old from Liaoning province released the letter on Sina Weibo, China's most popular micro blogging service, on Sunday evening.

The government restricts most families to having only one child and such families risk losing their sole support in the parents' latter years as demographic studies show about five out of every 1,000 people will die before the age of 25, said the open letter.

"We think the government should be liable to provide remedies for people who ‘sacrifice their rights or interest',"reads the letter that has been signed by 1,773 parents nationwide who have lost an only child.

The petition urges the request should be added into the country's population and family planning law that was enacted in 2002.

"It's a pity that the current law only stipulates that local governments should provide necessary assistance to families whose only child has been accidentally injured or killed on the condition the parents do not adopt or give birth to another child,"said Jiang, whose only child, a daughter, died in a car crash overseas in 2007.

"It is unclear what that necessary assistance is,"she said, adding local governments refuse to pay compensation as there is no legal basis for them to do so.

Chen Wei, a lawyer from Beijing Yingke Law Firm, agreed that the state should improve the relevant legislation and its social security network for parents who lose an only child.

Chinese society emphasizes raising offspring who will support their parents in their old age as the existing social welfare system falls short of people's needs, Chen said.

"Most senior citizens live on meager pensions after retirement and have to pay high medical fees most of the time as the health insurance system covers limited types of disease and the reimbursement rate is low,"she said.

"Parents who lose their sole child will face numerous difficulties later in life, so the government should take care of them."

However, Ge Daoshun, a sociologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes it should not be an obligation of the government to compensate bereaved parents.

"The government is not liable for their children's death, so it's inappropriate to suggest the government should pay for their loss,"he said.

"The government can provide financial aid for these parents as a humanitarian effort,"he added. "Communities and the whole of society should provide more care and services to relieve their pain."

As of the end of 2012, more than 355,000 parents aged 49 or older had lost an only child, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

The commission pledged to introduce more favorable policies to support parents who lose an only child, for elderly care, treatment for major diseases and emotional comfort, it said in a notice posted on its website in June.

Late this year or earlier next year, the central government plans to allow couples to have two children if either of the spouses come from a one-child family in certain pilot areas, Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday, quoting an anonymous insider from the commission.

The national family planning policy will be further relaxed to allow all couples to have two children by the end of 2015, the report said.

Mao Qun'an, a spokesman for the commission, reiterated on Saturday that China will stick to its current population policy long term, but media outlets and the public have high expectations of a loosened family planning policy.

Some 57 percent of about 1,400 respondents said they would like to have a second child, according to a survey released by the Southern Metropolis Daily on Sunday

In 2007, the central government launched a policy that asked local authorities to provide subsidies for people over 49 years of age left childless after losing an only child, but the subsidies vary widely in different regions.

Jiang and her husband receive a monthly subsidy of 270 yuan ($44) from the local government.