Remarks by Ambassador Jiang Jiang at the Conference on Population Ageing and Active Ageing: International and Asian Perspectives

Dear Friends,

        Good morning. I am delighted to attend today’s conference on Population Ageing and Active Ageing: International and Asian Perspectives. You are all experts in this field, so I will share some personal experience and leave the academic discussion to you.

        I have been living abroad as Ambassador for more than six years. Every time I go back to China on home leave, I can feel the rising quality of life for the elderly. Every morning, I would see many senior citizens in the park, walking, exercising, singing and dancing. Their energy and passion really defy their age. One of the first things I do each time I go back to China is to visit my parents at their retirement home in the suburbs of Beijing. They often tell me how much they enjoy the life there, which is comfortable and convenient with access to all the facilities and care service they need. The management team regularly organizes fun activities for everyone living there. So though I’m unable to spend much time with my parents, it is comforting to know that they are taken good care of and living a happy life.

        As you may know, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Over the past seven decades, China has developed from a country fraught with poverty into the world’s second largest economy, which has significantly uplifted living standards and quality of the health system. Average life span has been extended from 35 years in 1949 to 77 years today. With that, however, comes the acceleration of population aging. According to international standards, China had already become an aging society by 2000. Today, there are about 167 million Chinese aged 65 or above, which is 11.9% of the total population. Dealing with the challenge of aging society is very much on the minds of the Chinese government and public.

        To respect and support the elderly is a traditional virtue for the Chinese. Just like the people in Malta, we in China also believe in valuing the family and taking good care of one’s parents. Our Constitution stipulates that children who have come of age have a duty to support and assist their parents. That being said, not all young people can stay by their parents’ side because of their work or other reasons. It thus takes the whole society to provide the policies and facilities needed to make sure that every senior citizen has access to support and care. Since reform and opening-up, China has enhanced its programs for pension insurance, medical insurance, social assistance and rural poverty alleviation, providing full coverage in its social safety net for the elderly. In his report delivered at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, President Xi Jinping pointed out that “as we respond proactively to population aging, we will adopt policies and foster a social environment in which senior citizens are respected, cared for, and live happily in their later years. We will provide integrated elderly care and medical services, and accelerate the development of old-age programs and industries.” This has charted the course for dealing with population aging issues in the new era.

        Senior citizens made great contribution to our society in their youth and deserve a happy life after retirement. Population aging is a global challenge and an issue that we each need to face on a personal level. I hope that through discussions like the one we are having today, we will draw on each other’s experience, work together on measures for healthy and active aging, and make joint contribution to solving population aging issues.

        In conclusion, I wish today’s conference a great success. Thank you.

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