BEIJING, March 28 (Xinhua) -- China on Friday established its first government-sponsored national fund specially designed for "shidu" elderly, a Chinese term coined to describe aged parents who have lost their only child.
The fund will offer life assistance and mental consolation to shidu elderly with financial difficulties by giving aid directly or through communities and nursing homes, according to Han Xuechen, director of the fund.
The fund, which has raised donations worth more than 10 million yuan (1.61 million U.S. dollars), will be under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA).
Life for shidu elderly can be particularly difficult in China, where parents traditionally rely on their children to look after them in old age.
The fund is currently running pilot programs in cooperation with a subdistrict in Beijing and earthquake-hit Beichuan County in southwest China's Sichuan Province, according to Han.
If successful, the plan is for the program to be gradually expanded.
China is undergoing a fast aging process and 202 million members of the population, or 14.9 percent of the total population, were aged 60 or above at the end of 2013, said MCA Vice Minister Dou Yupei.
This number is expected to exceed 300 million by 2025, and a large number of them will be shidu or empty-nest elderly who need special care from society, according to Dou.