Mo Yan proposes support for bereaved one-child parents

Updated: 2014-03-07 13:05

BEIJING - Chinese Nobel laureate Mo Yan has called for more policy and financial support from the government for parents who have lost their only child.

Speaking at the ongoing annual session of China's top political advisory body, he said the one-child policy that took effect in the late 1970s slowed population growth and eased pressure on resources but caused great difficulties and problems for parents who have lost their only child.

Traditionally, Chinese people rely on their children to support them in old age. When a sole child dies, elderly parents can find themselves in dire circumstances.

In many areas, one-child families get a monthly allowance of a mere 5 yuan (0.8 U.S. dollars) under a policy established in the early 1980s, Mo Yan noted in a proposal submitted to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Those families can only get a total of 840 yuan until their children reach 14, which can hardly cover living costs. Those who have lost their only child face an even worse situation, especially in rural areas, he said.

In Weifang City of east China's Shandong Province, Mo Yan's hometown, there are more than 3,000 people who have lost their only child.

"You can imagine. How can a rural couple in their 60s spend their lonely life?" the novelist asked.

Mo Yan proposed that parents who have only one child should be included in the government pension and medical insurance system and that financial support to them should be improved.

"When they lose their ability to work, they should enjoy the same wage and treatment as government civil servants," he said.

China substantially increased the subsidy for parents who have lost their only child in December last year.

Effective from the start of 2014, couples in cities who have lost their only child and in which the woman is 49 or older get 340 yuan per parent a month. Rural couples get 170 yuan for each parent, according to a statement from the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Mo Yan, 59, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012. In his novel "Frog," he depicts a rural obstetrician who carried out thousands of abortion operations to strictly implement the one-child policy.

China has the largest senior population in the world, with 194 million people at or above the age of 60 at the end of 2012, according to the China National Committee on Aging.

This age group is expected to grow to 243 million by 2020 and by 2050, one-third of the Chinese population will be aged over 60.