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Volunteerism grows as China's population ages


08:21, December 10, 2012

AS China grapples with a rapidly aging society, more people are coming out of the comfort of retirement and contributing to society by engaging in volunteer work.

Li Caier and Liang Jianming are a retired couple living in northern Taiyuan City. Their volunteer work as matchmakers has resulted in more than 1,000 people tying the knot.

The couple, both in their 60s, started volunteering as matchmakers after they retired several years ago.

"Some people send us money to express their appreciation, but we always refuse it. We feel satisfied when we send our blessings at their weddings," Liang said.

By the end of 2011, 185 million people in China were aged 60 or above, and the number is expected to further rise to account for about 30 percent of China's total population of nearly 1.4 billion people by the middle of this century.

Li and Liang are not the country's only volunteer retirees, and associations for aged volunteers have been set up in provinces like Heilongjiang, Hunan and Zhejiang.

Li Liguo, minister of civil affairs, has said that China would push for the promulgation of preferential policies for volunteers.

Zhang Youde, head of the Social Management School, Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said society needs to advocate public social responsibility, which, to maintain its purity, should not be linked to personal interests.

But Wen Jun, a professor with East China Normal University, said volunteer work in China is still in its early stages, and the government needs to take some measures to guide and push for its development.

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