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ZHENGZHOU, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) — The undivided love of her parents that Si Xiaoxue enjoyed in her childhood merely compounded the bitterness she felt when her father was diagnosed with cancer. China’s one-child generation have no siblings from whom to seek help.

Si had to take leave from her work. When more leave was no longer an option, she worked all day and tended to her sick father at night.

“It’s a real struggle,” the 34-year-old said. “Sometimes I just want to quit my job, but now I need the money more than ever.”

Si pays monthly medical bills of more than 10,000 yuan (1,500 U.S. dollars).

TIME TO CARE

For thousands of years, the Chinese have relied on their children to take care of them in their old age. However, the Chinese have traditionally had many children. For the one-child generation like Si, the emotional, physical and financial burden they are expected to bear is a punishingly heavy one.

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To relieve that burden, legislation in some parts of the country now allows employees to take time off, with full pay, to care for their sick parents.

In central China’s Hunan Province, an only child is allowed to take up to 20 days off each year if his or her parents are over 60 and in hospital. Similar rules apply in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, where 15 days off are allowed. Salaries, allowances and bonuses may not be reduced during leave. The pattern is being repeated in Chongqing, Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan, Heilongjiang, Henan and Hubei.

After more than 30 years of the one-child policy, care for the elderly has become a very difficult issue for individual families and a social problem which the government must address.

There were about 230 million people aged 60 or over in China at the end of 2016, close to 17 percent of the population.

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