Chinese elders are once again in the spotlight after a grandmother announced she was willing to pay someone to act as her “daughter” on a trip to another city in China.
Li Yanling, a lonely grandma from Zhejiang province, posted an offer on social media to any young woman who is willing to accompany her on an all-expense paid trip to Hainan. In addition to the deal, the 65-year-old granny added an iPhone 7 as a bonus.
“I live alone in Zhengzhou… I’d like a warm-hearted girl between the ages of 19 and 24 years old to go with me to chat with and take photos. I’d like to see the sea in Sanya this winter, but just fear the loneliness of traveling solo,” Li wrote on WeChat where she posted her advert.
According to Shanghaiist, Li’s social media post went viral and attracted the attention of many netizens and some were even offering to accompany Li without the need to be compensated.
“I don’t need the phone but can come with you, auntie, and I will pay my own bills, as long as it relieves your loneliness,” one user said.
Unfortunately for Li, and probably other lonely elders in China, the growing feeling of loneliness doesn’t come from a lack of family. In Li’s case, she began feeling lonely when her daughter moved to Canada and her husband started taking long hiking trips. This means that she is mostly left alone at home by herself.
Although there are many travel businesses that offer tour groups, Li said that what she is really looking to find is the company of a surrogate daughter.
“I’m afraid of loneliness,” Li confessed.
China’s increasing elderly population is estimated to be at 220 million last year according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. But it is quite ironic how older people like Li are willing to pay someone just to fill a part of her that’s missing even though there is already an existing Chinese law that should ensure the welfare of the elderly.
In 2012, China passed a law called “Elderly Rights Law” which allows the parents to sue their children if they feel they are being neglected.
Filial piety, also known as the virtue of looking after previous generations, is very much expected in China’s younger generation. However, making sure that this tradition is sustained is not always the case.