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Aging society a common challenge for EU and China
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10:18, January 15, 2008

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As the aging population poses the similar challenges to both EU and China, the two can learn together to be well prepared to secure the economic growth and social cohesion at the same time.

Vladimir Spidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities made those comments in his article for his visit to China from Jan. 12. to 15.

He said that in Europe and China, the aging population is growing rapidly as a result of low birth rates and increasing life expectancy; while the working population will decline, a scenario to be seen in Europe after 2010 and in China after 2015.

But China has its problem which makes it even harder to address the issue. As Mr. Spidla pointed out, China "became an aging society when its per capita income was still relatively low". He offered to share the experiences of Europe which went through aging "at an earlier stage".

Mr. Spidla's trip to China included talks with the Chinese government and industry. An agreement he signed during this trip between the European Commission and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences will promote the bilateral dialogues on common interests and long-term challenges regarding the employment and social policies in the aging society.

Mr. Spidla opened an EU-China seminar in Shanghai on Jan. 14, which focused on the policies to deal with the socio-economic changes in the aging societies in Europe and China.

The cooperation between EU and China is "becoming increasingly solid" since the launch of the first EU-China dialogue in employment and social affairs in 2005 and an EUR 20 million joint project on reform of China's pension system, said Mr. Spidla.

Mr. Spidla stressed that EU would make the challenge of aging society as an "opportunity" to support their economic and social prosperity, not as a "threat". Specifically, the "life-cycle approach" that the EU is trying to promote will help Europeans, who in fact would like to have more children, have the necessary support to "bring up a family, care for family members and pursue a successful career."

By People's Daily Online

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