'Beijing mulls treating elderly in neighbouring cities'

Municipal government discussing with two cities in Hebei province if they can share the burden of caring for the capital's ageing population, according to a newspaper report

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 12:20pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 5:15pm

Officials from two cities in Hebei province – Zhangjiakou and Zhuozhou – are in talks with the municipal government in Beijing about helping to care for the capital’s rapidly increasing number of elderly, according to a mainland newspaper report.

The cities may be able to provide beds in care homes and medical treatment for pensioners, according to the Beijing Youth Daily.

About 2.8 million people in Beijing are over 60, about 21 per cent of the capital’s registered population. Other old people are living in Beijing without an official household registration, boosting the figure still higher.

Two other cities in Hebei – Langfang and Boading – announced details in March of plans to strengthen their infrastructure as part of central government plans to take some of the overflow from the capital in neighbouring cities.

Moving Beijing’s elderly to Hebei’s care centres could be a possible solution to relieve the pressure of supporting an ageing population, an unnamed official with capital’s bureau of civil affairs told the newspaper.

“There are a lot of problems. For instance, how much subsidy will Hebei receive for taking in Beijing’s elderly people?” the official said. “It still needs policy research and design.”

The capital now has 90,000 nursing beds for the elderly and about 5,500 specialised nurses caring for them.

Beijing plans to increase the number of beds to 160,000 by 2020.

The capital is drafting regulations to oversee the care of the elderly, but Li Wanjun, the director of the municipal bureau of civil affairs, said the gap between available facilities and nurses and the demand for services was still fast expanding.

The number of people aged over 60 reached 202 million nationally at the end of last year, making up 14.9 per cent of the population, according to Yan Qingchun, an official with China National Committee On Ageing.

The number is estimated to surge to 300 million by 2023 and surpass 400 million by 2033.

The government wants greater economic integration between Beijing, Tianjin and nine cities in Hebei, the China Business Journal reported last August, citing unnamed sources.

The idea of more closely coordinating the development of the region around the capital was first proposed in 2006 in a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank.