Visit your parents. That's an order. China's national legislature amended its law on the elderly yesterday to require that adult children visit their aged parents "often" – or risk being sued by them.
State media said the new clause would allow elderly parents who felt neglected by their children to take them to court. The amendment does not specify how frequently such visits should occur.
A rapidly developing China is facing increasing difficulty in caring for its aging population. Three decades of market reforms have accelerated the breakup of the traditional extended family, and there are few affordable alternatives such as retirement or care homes.
State media reported this month that a grandmother in her 90s in the prosperous eastern province of Jiangsu had been forced by her son to live in a pig pen for two years.
News outlets frequently carry stories about elderly parents being abused or neglected, or of children seeking to take control of their parents' assets without their knowledge.
Problems related to China's elderly population are being fuelled by rising life expectancy – which has gone from 41 to 73 over the past five decades – and by the policy in force since 1979 that limits most families to a single child.