Officials in a northern Chinese county have adopted a new policy aiming to encourage their citizens to care for China’s ageing population.  Demonstrating diligence and efficiency is no longer sufficient to earn a governmental promotion.  Public officials must now “show sufficient filial piety” and earn high marks for caring for parents, spouse and in-laws to rise up the ranks.

In an article about the new policy, The Guardian interviews Qi Jinghai, party secretary of Weixian county in Hebei province, to explain the new policy.  According to Mr. Qi, “Confucian teaching [shows] that filial piety [comes] above other virtues.”  He goes on to argue that “those who do not care for their parents cannot be trusted with public affairs” and that “[i]f we want to help the public have filial piety, officials should take the lead.”

However, The new policy has not been implemented without controversy. Many have argued that “the public needed competent officials rather than people who treated their parents well.”  In fact, the Guardian quotes a cynical commentator on the Chujin web portal as observing that  ” many corrupt officials are filial. They usually reserve part of the public funds they embezzled for their parents. But how can the system favour these kind of filial cadres?”

As China rapidly ages, it will soon have over 100 million citizens over 80 years old.  Join IAHSA’s Study Tour to China and have the opportunity to learn more about how Chinese officials are hoping to confront this challenge.

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The Guardian