Law for elderly proposed

Updated: 2016-06-28 07:37

By Cao Yin(China Daily)

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Seniors who are unable to help themselves would receive guardians

Chinese seniors without the ability to take care of themselves would be given guardians under a draft of rules governing people' private rights.

The draft, an early step toward a more robust civil code, was submitted to China's top legislature for a first reading on Monday. The National People's Congress Standing Committee will discuss the draft rules at its bimonthly session, which runs until Saturday.

In the draft, seniors will be extended help along the lines of those with mental obstacles or who totally or partially lose their cognitive abilities.

The expansion has been applauded by judicial professionals, including Wang Yi, a law professor at Renmin University of China.

Law for elderly proposed

Guardianship, generally speaking, is designed to protect the rights and maintain the social stability of people who do not have the mental or physical capacity to act for themselves, Wang said.

"We have paid more attention to guardianship and civil rights of young people in the past," he said. "As our population ages, a number of practical problems arise. Protecting seniors and their rights has also become urgent."

Senior guardianship will be effective in solving some of the societal problems associated with aging if the draft can be passed, he said.

The China Social Welfare Foundation and CQNews released information on Thursday that the country's aging population - people older than 60 years - was 222 million as of the end of last year.

A report by the International Alzheimer's Association showed that China now has more than 10 million patients with Alzehimer's disease, adding that the effects of the disease can be devastating.

Zhang Wei, a lawyer at Beijing Zhi Zhi Law Firm, welcomed the draft, saying the extension of guardianship will effectively protect personal and property rights of the elderly.

"Compared with minors, adults have more rights that are easier to damage. That is why it is important and necessary to write it into the draft," Zhang said.

"In other words, if a disabled senior, or an adult with a mental illness, has a guardian, the guardian will be blamed or receive punishments when he or she does not take responsibility," he said.

In addition to protecting seniors' rights, protecting unborn fetuses is also suggested in the draft, along with the protection of virtual property and data as private rights.

The draft represents a key step in finishing the Chinese civil code, a collection of laws designed to cover the private sector. Proponents want to see that portion approved by March, Wang said.

He said some other aspects of private rights, including property and marriage, will also be considered under the draft's general rules "because it is the tone of the code".

Li Shishi, head of the NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission, said adoption of the final code - which is important for modernizing State governance, safeguarding people's interests and helping the economy - is expected in March 2020 after careful consideration of all the complex societal impacts.

(China Daily 06/28/2016 page4)