There are a couple of stories in this week’s Beijing Review that deal with the care of elderly people in China. The first thing that struck me was the honest engagement with the problem: Beijing Review is a government-funded magazine designed to get the Party’s view out into the world. But it has, like other Chinese media outlets in the past decade, also become more professional, not just spouting happy talk about the “superiority of socialism” (which is, I guess, so outlandish a notion that it is almost never mentioned anymore), but presenting complex stories with criticisms of government policy and social conditions.
The stories remind me of how hard it is to live up to Confucian ethical standards. It is fairly cliche to say that in a “Confucian society” filial piety requires children to take care of parents. Traditionally, this social expectation meant that Chinese societies had fewer nursing homes. But that is changing significantly in contemporary PRC.