A cemetery in Beijing. (Photo/CFP)
The price of burial plots in China has started to skyrocket as a result of the country's aging population, reports the state newswire China News Service.
In Harbin in the country's far northeast, the price of a plot at a local cemetery has almost quadrupled from 8,000 yuan (US$1,300) six years ago to 30,000 yuan (US$4,800) today.
In Qingdao in Shandong province, there are hardly any plots priced below 30,000 yuan (US$4,800). The price of plots at well-tended cemeteries is beyond 50,000 yuan (US$8,000) per square meter, higher than the price per square meter for mansions in the city with beautiful sea views, said the report.
China is poised to run out of space in its current graveyards in six years, and the land available for cemeteries across the whole country will be used up in the next decade, according to a report by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
The limited supply and high demand for plots has driven up the prices, and provided corrupt officials with a chance to line their own pockets. An official in Guangdong province in southern China sold about 8,000 plots intended for local residents to people from outside the area, and raked in illegal profits of over 300 million yuan (US$48 million), according to local reports.
There were also reports from Shanghai that people have waited in long queues overnight to buy burial plots at a cemetery when they become available.
In order to ease the shortage at cemeteries, people are encouraged to consider sea burial, or spread the ashes of their departed loved ones under trees or flowers in designated gardens to save burial space, according to civil affairs minister Li Liguo.