The Workshop“The role of Community for Old Age Support in Rural China”successfully held

(NEWS from Pei Xiaomei)The workshop “Old Age Support and Rural Community Development”, organized by Tsinghua University Gerontology Center, was held on October 27, 2009 on Tsinghua University Campus to promote dialogues among policy makers, rural community leaders, and academic researchers on the issues of old age support for China’s rural aged population. Over twenty people presented at the workshop and research findings, local experience, and latest government policies were disseminated.

Researchers from Tsinghua University, Renmin University, and China Research Center on Aging reported findings from their research about the current status of the old people in rural China on resource sharing in families and communities and inter-generational relations that affected resource distributions. The local community leaders, Chang Desheng from Jiangsu Province and Yu Shaoyi from Shandong Province introduced, respectively, their efforts to build community welfare programs along the local development. Mr. Xiao Caiwei, the Assistant Director of China National Working Committee on Aging, delivered a speech on the latest development of state policies and strategies on social protection for the rural aged. Mr. Wang Hui, Head of the office for old age welfare from the State Ministry of Civil Affairs, introduced the state plan for rural elderly care. Dr. Lu Haiyuan from the Department of Rural Social Insurance, Ministry of Human Resource and Social Security, introduced the state plan for reorganizing old age insurance for rural population. The Director of the provincial Department of Civil Affairs in Ningxia Hui Ethnical Autonomous Region presented the provincial efforts to establishing a program to subsidize the very old population within the region.

The participants of the workshop reached the consensus that the rural old people had the right to share the product of the social and economic development. It was well recognized that it was the political determination and the way of resource distribution, rather than the amount of resource available, that affected the access of the aged people to a stable social income. The research findings and local experience also demonstrated that potentiality existed for institutional program for rural old age support and both government and community had a role in organizing such a program. Key messages emerging during the workshop included: the need to review of the aged population as precious resources and contributor to the rural community development, potentials of rural communities in creating and distributing resources for old age support, community opportunities for social inclusion through fair flows of resources to promote social harmony and stability, and accelerate economic growth.

As one of the activities of the SPA project on rural aged support in China, the workshop succeeded in disseminating the latest research findings to the public and in bridging the information channel between local practice and state policy making.(Edited by Zhou Chaowen)