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Chinese burials go green with ashes under trees, flowers

BEIJING, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- After life would you like to be interred in a soulless box or have your ashes fertilizing living, growing flora? China wants you to choose the latter.

According to a regulation unveiled Wednesday, China will promote eco-burials to ensure harmonious relationship between humans and nature.

Eco-burials save the land, reduces funeral costs and does less harm to the environment, according to the document jointly released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and eight other central authorities.

There are plans for facilities to support eco-burial services across the country by the end of 2020. The cremation rate will also be increased, it said.

Chinese traditionally believe that souls only rest in peace if their bodies are covered by soil. Due to land scarcity and pollution, ground burial are banned in most cities.

However, it is still allowed in many rural and minority areas. The national cremation rate was 45.6 percent in 2014.

Nowadays people are becoming more open to other options. By the end of 2014, Beijing had seen 78,000 eco-friendly burials, the ministry said.

The change is also prompted by expensive entombing service. In Beijing, a tomb site for preserving the cremation urn can cost from 3,000 to more than 30,000 U.S. dollars.

Many have to bury their family members in neighboring Hebei Province and some even joke that they can't afford to die.

The ministry said it will strive to encourage eco-burials across the nation, pushing tree, flower and sea burial in areas with strict cremation policies and encouraging deep burial, smaller tombs or replacing gravestones with trees.

Those opting for eco-burials will be awarded by the government, according to the document.

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