The Chinese county where graves for the living is dead serious business – even for children

Tradition dictates that people have a final resting place set aside by the time they are 30

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 April, 2018, 6:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 April, 2018, 6:03pm

One county in central China is home to tens of thousands of empty, elaborate graves built for people still alive, including many children under the age of 10, Chinese state media reported on Sunday.

More than 80,000 of the graves are scattered across Tongcheng county in Hubei province, ready to eventually house the corpses of their still-living owners, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Over 95 per cent of the county’s 78,000 residents aged 60 and above – as well as many younger people – have already put the finishing touches to their final resting place in a country short of arable land.

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The report said it was a tradition in the rural region to have a grave ready well before death, usually by the time a person hits 30.

The graves cover fields and roadsides and some already have headstones inscribed with the name and birth date of their future occupant.

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Some online commenters criticised the tradition as outdated and a waste of land, but others said it was understandable.

“It should be banned! Land is a public resource,” Weibo user Chenxi said.

“If they use their own money it is perfectly justifiable,” another user, ShadowUnderTheSun, said.