The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 4, 2013

Go see mom and dad, it’s the law in China

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — China, as we know, is a repressive nation whose government is dominated by the communist party.

The party controls many aspects of the Chinese people’s daily lives, like what children learn in school, what television shows Chinese viewers can watch, where they work and live, even how many children they have.

China has some peculiar laws. It is illegal in China, for instance, for a woman to walk around a hotel room in the nude, with the exception of the bathroom. I’m not sure I want to know how they go about policing this.

In China, in order to go to college you must be intelligent. It’s the law. Just how intelligent you must be or who judges your intelligence, I’m not sure.

It is against the law in China to store more than one ton of fireworks in the cellar of your house. That’s one it’s hard to argue with.

It is illegal to drive through a yellow light in China, just as it is to run a red light.

Get caught doing it twice in one year and you will lose your license. That would never fly here. Half the drivers in the U.S. would be walking if that law was on our books.

In March, Wang Jinxiang, the mother of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, was having her 79th birthday party.

Eight government officials in two cars showed up at the party and seized two grandmothers, one 72, the other 63, just because they had told a reporter that Chen had helped them in a fight with the Chinese government over compensation for their houses, which had been torn down by authorities.

Wang’s 78th birthday wasn’t much better. That day thugs hired by the government knocked her to the ground when she tried to leave her home to buy food. She struck her head on the door as she fell.

That kind of elder abuse runs counter to an amendment to a Chinese law that just went into effect Monday.

The regulation, the Law of Protection of Rights and Interests of the Aged, requires that the children of parents older than 60 see that their parents’ daily financial and spiritual needs are met.

New wording in the law requires that children visit or at least keep in touch with their elderly parents, or risk being sued.

In other words, call Mom and Dad, or else.

In China, respect for the elderly is deeply ingrained. But the changing Chinese economy is causing more and more young people to leave home and move far away in order to seek their fortune.

We’ve been going through the same thing in this country for decades.

The pressures of making a living and raising a family often shunt mom and dad to the back burner.

It is sad that China has a law requiring children of elderly parents to keep in regular contact with them.

We have no such law in America, of course. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of older folks who don’t wish the phone or doorbell wouldn’t ring a little more often, as long as their kids were on the other line or standing on the porch.

I have attended four funerals in the past few weeks. All four men were parents, two were grandparents.

I bet I know what their children and grandchildren would say if you asked them whether they’d like one more chance to visit dad or grandpa.

My father has been gone for 41 years, my mother for nearly 24. While they were still alive I took them for granted. I wish I hadn’t.

The love between parent and child is perhaps humanity’s deepest, longest-lasting bond. We should not let time, or distance, diminish it.

There’s an anonymous quote that says, “Love your parents and treat them with love and care, for you will only know their value when you see their empty chair.”

So call your folks, text them, Skype them, or get in the car, jump on a plane, and drop by. Thankfully in this country it’s not the law, it’s just a good idea.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at