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Proposed retirement delay stirs new round of objections

(Xinhua)

08:32, July 03, 2012

BEIJING, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Chinese netizens on Monday expressed overwhelming objections to a suggestion on pushing back the country's universal retirement age to 65.

On Sunday, He Ping, a research fellow with a government-backed research institute on social security, addressed a high-profile seminar on aging, saying that China should begin lifting the retirement age from 2016 to gradually reach 65 in 2045, according to a report from the Beijing Times on Monday.

China's current retirement system was introduced more than six decades ago, when the average life expectancy was around 50. Today, the general retirement age is 60 for men, and 55 for female government employees and 50 for other female workers.

The report quickly made it onto the rankings of top stories on several major news portals, including Sina.com and 163.com, and later garnered wide criticism and objection from the general public.

By Monday afternoon, more than 36,000 comments on the story had been posted on the two sites and 770,000 readers had given mood ratings to the stories.

One of the most supported comments came from a mobile user from Guangdong. The user said that blue-collar workers could hardly continue working in their sixties and the new rule would only benefit officials.

Many tried to remind experts about the situation of the unemployed. They also warned of serious social problems that could arise if the government fails to create jobs for young people.

Meanwhile, a large portion of respondents agreed with experts' forecast on an increasing labor shortage, but they still opposed the proposal due to a strong sense that they will not receive enough pension funds when they are old.

Readers' doubts also pointed to the "injustice" between the preferential pension system for government employees and the universal social security system.

Earlier in June, China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security announced its ongoing investigation on a possibly more flexible retirement and pension system that would allow people to continue working past the current retirement age.

The announcement triggered hot discussion, and over 90 percent of the public voted for "no" in two separate online polls.

The ministry later said these studies do not mean that an immediate change would take place, but the revision of the retirement age would be "an inevitable trend" in the future and carried out in accordance with economic and social changes.

Li Jun, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also backed the revision at Sunday's seminar, but stressed that the retirement line should be drawn with extreme prudence.

China has pledged to increase its citizens' average life expectancy to 74.5 years by 2015.

The Chinese population aged 65 and above reached 123 million in 2011, and the figure is expected to rise to 323 million, or more than 23 percent of the nation's population, by 2050.

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:梁军、马茜)

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