Revised law requires people to visit parents regularly: Why filial piety tradition is lost?

On July 1, the newly revised “Elderly Protection Law” in China entered into effect which stipulates that family members should concern about the spiritual needs of the elderly, can not ignore and neglect the elderly. In case the elderly are living independently, other family members should visit the elderly regularly.

Respecting and taking care of elders has always been an old tradition and moral requirement in the long Chinese culture, as the old saying goes, filial piety is the priority among 100 kinds of virtues (百善以孝为先). Thus one may ask, why happened to the young generation resulting in the missing of the old virtue of filial piety which now has be maintained with the law enforcement.

Long distance travel and limited leaves

Different from major western countries, Chinese employees tend to work thousands of miles away due to the historical reason, i.e. economy of eastern costal areas tends to be well developed than the inner provinces due to the reform and opening up policy. On the other hand, for these who work in the factories, most of them are not even entitled to have two-days off in a week, overtime is regular and the income obtained during overtime is an important component of the total income for most factory workers (the low basic salary discourages people from taking leaves because their income will be reduced largely even during paid leaves). Application for long-time leave is also not easy to be granted by the management.

Lack of proper education

In China, education simply means two things to students: tests and certificates which matter to the teachers and students’ parents as well. Because of standard answers, students are taught to provide answers and the skills related thereto. As long as the answers are correct, no many students will think of the meanings and moral requirements contained in the books and stories written thousands of years ago. While the education sector does not do the job required of them, the falling the the traditional morality system seems to the reasonable to some extent.

Rapid urbanization

During the rapid urbanization in China, hundreds of major and medium cities are created, young people from the rural areas are the new residents of theses cities, this is also the reason why in many cities non-local residents are more than the local residents. While the urbanization is in full speed, new city residents’ old parents are still staying in the rural areas. Even for those elders who are willing the migrate into cities with their children, the special household registration system or hukou system in China which excludes non-local people from living in the cities (by creating differentiating policies in areas such as education) also makes the migration of the elders difficult.

Rapid westernization and conflicts between the traditional and new social cultural systems

Hakka enclosed houses display the traditional concept of family in China in the ancient time which included all close relatives and offsprings

The concept of family in China is undergoing fast change. In several decades ago, people in living in big family which could include all relatives in the same village. The elders are usually ones led the while family and made important decisions. With time passes, the Chinese people people seem to be more accessible to the western style culture, a small family concept is now widely accepted. The past powerful role in the Chinese family, old parents, are now much neglected being the minority in the society.

Posted in: Law

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