China widens pension coverage as population ages

China on Sunday launched a campaign aiming to provide pension insurance to all rural residents and unemployed citizens in order to help the country cope with its aging population.

“We must ensure that the new pension insurance system covers all rural residents and unemployed urbanites by the end of this year,” said Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, at a launching ceremony for the campaign held in Xibaipo, a village in north China’s Hebei province.

More than 380 million Chinese have been insured by the urban-rural residents social pension insurance system over the past three years, with about 100 million aged people claiming basic pension granted by the state every month, according to the minister.

At the ceremony, Chen Shizhong, an 81-year-old local resident, received a deposit book for the basic pension system from local authorities.

“I am very glad to get my deposit book, since I won’t have to ask my kids for an allowance again,” said Chen, who will receive a monthly pension of 55 yuan (8.73 U.S. dollars).

“A minimal monthly pension of 55 yuan won’t solve the problem of supporting the aged population, but it can boost their dignity,” said Bai Gang, head of Quzhou county in Hebei province.

Some 123 million Chinese were older than 65 by the end of 2011, accounting for 9.1 percent of the total population, according to official data.

Xinhua