News stories of the week

This week we have two stories that represent big picture issues facing China.

The first is that finally farmers are able to receive pensions. They will receive 55yuan per month (about $9). Even though that is a tiny amount of money, even in China, this is the first progress we have seen in this area. Prior to this policy, elderly farmers had to rely on their children for assistance. If their children did not provide for them their choice was between abject poverty and suing their own family. This elderly population is referred to as part of the “left behind” group that also includes children and to a lesser extent wives, due to the massive migration of laborers to the cities. Let’s hope this project grows so that people will be able to better maintain their dignity in old age.

Secondly we have a story about organ donation. In a country of 1,300,000,000 people a whopping 28 have signed up with the Red Cross organ donor program. This is a good reminder that China’s society is still lagging in developing a spirit of charity. This is not just a problem for the Red Cross but for all charities in China that are trying to raise funds and find volunteers. The other worrying aspect of the article is that it says there were still 50,000 kidney transplants, so where did those come from? The answer I got from one of the doctors at the hospital is that most of these still come from executed prisoners.

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