China orders children to visit their elderly parents

image captionChina's family bonds are being increasingly strained by the rapid pace of development

China has passed a law requiring adult children to visit their elderly parents regularly or risk being sued.

The law does not specify how frequently such visits should occur, but warns that neglect could risk court action.

Reports suggest a growing number of elderly Chinese have been abandoned or neglected by their offspring.

Chinese state media reported earlier this month that a woman in her nineties had been forced by her son to live in a pigsty for two years.

Newspapers are full of such stories, or of tales of children trying to seize their parents' assets, or of old people dying unnoticed in their homes.

The rapid pace of development in China has damaged the traditional extended family in China.

An eighth of the population of China is over the age of 60, and more than half of them live alone.

Their children often leave home to work in the major industrial centres.

The dislocation of families has been exacerbated by China's one-child policy and a dramatic advance in life expectancy.

China has nearly 167 million people aged over 60, and one million above 80.

There are fewer working offspring to support more elderly relatives.

There are few affordable alternatives, such as retirement or care homes, for the elderly or others unable to live on their own.

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