China: You Must Visit Your Parents

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 28 2012 1:45 PM

China: You Must Visit Your Parents

157745201
An elderly man reads a newspaper at a park in Beijing

Photo by WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese parents now have a weapon more powerful than guilt to make sure their adult children visit them: The threat of a lawsuit. The national legislature on Friday passed an amendment to a law requiring that Adult children visit their elderly parents “often” or risk being taken to court, reports the Associated Press. There is no guidelines to what “often” means but the measure seems to be a clear response to numerous reports about elderly parents who were abandoned or made to live in horrific conditions by their children.

The plight of elderly is one of the big challenges facing the fast-developing China as rapid industrialization has led to the breakup of the traditional family structure without an adequate state safety net to take its place.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.