Beijing promotes eco-friendly burials ahead of Tomb-Sweeping Day

Updated: 2016-03-28 14:30

By Ma Chi(

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Beijing promotes eco-friendly burials ahead of Tomb-Sweeping Day

A man scatters the ashes of his late father into the sea in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning province. [Photo/NetEase]

With Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, around the corner, Beijing issues new regulations to encourage eco-friendly burials.

No more traditional tombs will be built in public cemeteries and the lease of existent ones will not to be renewed, according to the regulations issued by Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau.

Also, the use of non-decomposable construction materials, such as cement and stone, should be reduced in building tombs while degradable urns are encouraged in funerals, the regulations said.

Chinese tradition holds that the dead should be buried, but the custom has put a strain on the populous country's land resources and pushed up the price of cemetery plots.

To deal with the problem, Beijing started promoting eco-friendly burials in the 1990s, encouraging land-saving funerals such as sea burials and tree funerals.

For example, the city offers a subsidy of 4,000 yuan ($614) for each sea burial service, covering travel expenses, insurance and meals for up to six relatives of the deceased, as well as a degradable urn.

As a result, ecological burials have gained popularity among Beijing residents in recent years: eco-friendly burials accounted for some 46 percent of all funerals last year, in which the number of sea burials increased from 307 in 2009 to around 2,000 last year.

According to Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau, the city aims to ensure half of all funerals are conducted in an eco-friendly way by 2020.

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