Older generation take active approach to retirement in China

World Today

The Chongyang Festival marks a special day for elders in China. It’s known as the “Double-Ninth Festival” – falling on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. The holiday symbolizes longevity, making it the perfect day to honor China’s ancestors and senior citizens.

CGTN’s Yao Chin reports on the lives of China’s seniors.

In China, retirement used to mean old men taking their birds for a walk, or meeting in the park to sing arias from a Chinese opera. Some traditions don’t change, and many still practice Tai Chi first thing every morning.

But how one spends one’s retirement in modern day China has come a long way–around 16.7% of its population is now 60 and above, the retirement age for men. Thanks to constantly improving healthcare, life expectancy continues to rise. With a long, healthy retirement to look forward to, most pensioners in China are no longer passive, but active.

Mr. Shang Dehua has retired from his 30-year career as a driver. After an hour of Tai Chi each morning, he’s on to ping pong. It’s not for competition, only fun.
He’s also a keen photographer and takes it much more seriously than the cliched phone on a selfie stick. Dehua takes a course that lasts eight months. He’s been able to fund both the tuition fees as well as his camera equipment on his own. He’ll get a certificate when the course ends.

Mr. Shang isn’t representative of every Chinese pensioner. The government has acknowledged that there is quite a big gap between the reality faced by some of the elderly, and the happiness they were expecting in retirement. But that gap is closing. The government has issued a promise of “mei hao sheng huo,” which means a better life, for all its people.