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December 13, 2010

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Subsidy for 'sea burials' increased

A SUBSIDY to encourage Shanghai residents to break with tradition and have their ashes scattered at sea is being raised five-fold by the city authorities.

The subsidy is expected to be raised to 2,000 yuan (US$300) from the present 400 yuan, said the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Association.

"The power of the tradition is still strong, as Chinese believe people can only rest in peace when they are buried in the grave," said Wang Hongjie, secretary general of the association. "But a 'sea burial' would help break the tradition."

The association yesterday held a ceremony for the deceased who chose sea burials at the Binhaiguyuan Cemetery, which has set up a monument on which the names of all the people who choose a sea burial are carved.

The civil affairs authorities encourage sea burials mainly because of land shortages.

The association said although the number of people who choose for their ashes to be scattered in the sea increases by 10 percent every year, the number is still very low.

Sea burials began in the city in 1991, and during the past 20 years more than 21,190 caskets of ash has been scattered. Some 100,000 people die in Shanghai each year.


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