Older women in China's southeastern Jiangxi province. (Photo/Xinhua)
The number of Chinese senior citizens is expected to skyrocket from the current 185 million to 487 million, or 35% of the population, by 2053, according to the China National Committee on Aging.
"The aging problem came late to China and the country is still struggling to create mature policies addressing the issue," Zhu Yong, vice director of the committee, said Monday at a seminar on aging held by the committee, the United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge International.
China had about 185 million people above the age of 60, or 13.7% of the population, at the end of last year. The figure is expected to surge to 221 million in 2015, including 51 million "empty nesters", or elderly people whose children no longer live with them.
Zhu urged authorities to draw on the experience of developed countries in order to reduce risks associated with the country's huge demographic changes.
At the seminar, experts recommended improving economic and health support, building more facilities for urban and rural senior residents, encouraging them to participate in social activities and establishing a medical treatment network for the aging population.
Figures from UN Population Fund show that of the global population, one person in every nine is aged 60 or above. The ratio is expected to climb to one in five by 2050.