Shanghai Passes Law Requiring Adult Children to Visit Parents

(Photo: Fechi Fajardo, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Fechi Fajardo, Creative Commons)

Shanghai is poised to make it illegal for adult children to refrain from visiting their parents. Authorities in the Chinese city have announced that progeny who did not live with their parents must "visit or send greetings often," or face what could be called severe consequences.

The Huffington Post's Alexandra Ma reports that parents will be allowed to sue their children if they do not visit, and courts will be able to order the adult children to spend time at their parents' nursing home or house.

Luo Peixin, deputy director of Shanghai's office of legislative affairs, said that if children do not follow the instructions of the court ruling, they could be entered into a "credit score blacklist." By doing so, children could find it difficult to open bank accounts and get loans.

Some reports stated that children who do not visit their parents were much like hit-and-run drivers or people who do not pay their subway fares.

The new policy is part of a city ordinance entitled "Regulations Safeguarding the Interests of the Elderly in Shanghai." The measure was adopted in January and will be enforced in May.

"Filial piety," or respecting one's elders, is a critical part of Chinese Confucianism. This centuries-old spiritual philosophy is still followed closely by the modern Chinese culture.

Along with the issue of respect is the fact that Shanghai is witnessing the aging of its society, and the city administrators are hopeful that family visits will help the elderly cover pension costs.

A study released in the early part of this year, writes Megan Leonhardt for Time, found that children who neglect their parents are 40% less likely to receive the same inheritance as their siblings who attended to their filial responsibilities.

Melissa Prax of Newsy writes that the new legislation spawns from a national law that is focused on the well-being of the country's elders.

Other specified requirements of the law include that if a parent is living in a nursing home, visits from children must occur more frequently. Also, if children do not connect with their parents and get on the "credit score blacklist," they will not even be eligible for a library card.

Kate Samuelson, writing for the UK's Daily Mail, reports that the new ruling will require organizations to remind members of the family to visit their mothers and fathers and warn them not to abandon their elders. The exact number of visits required of the adult children was not specified.

In 2014, a report by the Shanghai Daily showed that the number of seniors in Shanghai will pass 6 million by 2025. The parental visitation regulation is already in place in the Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces.

China's social media site, Weibo, has lit up from comments on the new law, with many writers saying they were confounded as to why the government would interfere in such family matters.

The law, published on the site, fleshed out the regulations a little further. The term "elderly," as it relates to the law, is anyone over the age of 60. Also, children were to assist parents in having "opportunities for their own pursuits and studies and enjoy themselves."

In addition, the law states, "Discriminating against, insulting, maltreating or forsaking the elderly is forbidden," and that "It is the duty of the entire society to protect the lawful rights and interests of the elderly."

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