A HIGHLY paid doctor in south China who refuses to support his ill mother is facing a fierce backlash in a nation that traditionally values filial piety.
Yang Xiaomin, an associate professor at Hainan Medical University and a doctor with HMU's Affiliated Hospital, has refused to provide 1,500 yuan (US$240) a month to cover his septuagenarian mother's medical costs and daily expenses.
Yang refuses to be his mother's caretaker, saying he "cannot afford to hire a nanny."
When his sister stepped in to take care of their mother and asked for money to help cover the costs, he refused. The sum is only about one-seventh of his monthly salary.
Yang has suggested sending his mother, surnamed Li, to a local nursing home, threatening to sever all ties with Li if she doesn't agree.
"I have devoted my whole life to bringing up my son. I can't believe he would treat me like this," Li sobbed.
Since the case began circulating on the Internet, Yang has been suspended from his positions at the university and the hospital.
Yang's behavior has drawn angry responses online, sparking a widespread discussion on the state of morality in China. One media report about the case has been forwarded more than 1,800 times on Weibo.
"This is unbelievable! How do you expect someone with low moral standards to be a good doctor?" wrote Weibo user "yuanshanyouwu."
It is not the only case that has sparked discussions on filial piety recently.
A 91-year-old mother was beaten by her son and daughter-in-law and kicked out of her family's home this month simply because she wanted to have a bowl of porridge instead of noodles, her staple food for the past 22 years.
In another case widely publicized on Weibo, a centenarian surnamed Jiang was found living in a pigsty in Guanyun County in eastern Lianyungang City.
Jiang, whose five sons and three daughters were supposed to take turns caring for her, has been living with pigs for the past three years. One of her sons insisted that Jiang wanted to live with the pigs.
Such cases reflect the diminution of filial piety in a country with a fast-growing economy, said Xia Xueluan, a professor with the Department of Sociology of Peking University.
"In China, there are many who ignore the moral value of showing filial piety to parents, such as those often seen in property disputes with their parents," Xia said.
China is going through economic and social restructuring. Amid the changes, many are leaving behind traditional values, he said.
The government needs to do more work in moral education, especially in a graying China where filial piety is disappearing and senior citizens face many problems, he added.
By the end of 2011, 185 million people in China were aged 60 or above, and the number is expected to further rise to account for about 30 percent of China's total population of nearly 1.4 billion by the middle of the century.
SOURCE: Shanghai Daily
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