In order to fight shortages of arable land, and other undefined factors, the government is promoting more eco-friendly burials, CRI English reports. As a result, sea burials’ grants have doubled from RMB 2,000 to RMB 4,000, and will now allow six family members to participate in the ceremony at sea instead of the previous two.
Sea burials deviate from Chinese tradition which holds that the dead should be buried in the earth next to their ancestors.
This news comes right before Tomb Sweeping Day, or Qingming Jie, which falls on April 5 this year. Traditionally, this day is important for people to honor their ancestors, and people in southern China eat qingtuan, green dumplings made of glutinous rice and barley grass.
The shortage of graves is no new issue – as the Washington Post reported skyrocketing prices for graves “driven by decades of unbridled development and scarce city land” two years ago. It was at this time that cities like Guangzhou and Shanghai first started to hand out a bonus to families who decided to bury their relatives at sea instead of in the earth.
Whether the raise in reimbursement is enough for Beijing is unlikely, as the shortage of graves is only set to get worse as the elderly population increases and the death rate does too.
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