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October 15, 2010

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Elderly 'stars' still shine bright

TWENTY ONE centenarians - 11 women and 10 men - were yesterday chosen as the city's "longevity stars."

Li Suqing, 111, has been oldest person in Shanghai for the past three years. She is still healthy with sharp eyes and a good appetite.

And Ni Bingxing, 106, is the oldest man in the city, according to the Gerontological Society of Shanghai.

But compared to the country's "stars," the two are still very young. Last year, the China Gerontological Society said China's oldest person was a 122-year-old Uygur man living in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

This year's result is expected to be announced today.

Now living in the Pudong New Area, Li is a Liaoning Province native. She still speaks a very clear northeast China dialect.

Unlike some older people, Li is always keen to keep up-to-date with what's going on in society. She went to the World Expo site recently with her children.

"My mother always asks us to tell her big and interesting news," said Tian Yulan, Li's daughter. "And she loves going out, despite her great age."

Also a Pudong resident, Ni was a farmer all his working life, and was still doing some work when he was 92. He may have now "retired," but still exercises every day.

Although his daughter Ni Guixian is herself 80 years old, she helps look after her father. "He has high blood pressure and heart disease, so every day I prepare medicine for him," she said. "I also cook for him from time to time."

Also yesterday, a venerable couple was selected as the "double star." The husband, Zhang Mucheng, is 101 years old, while his wife, Xu Dongying, is 102.

The couple have been married for 80 years and have eight children, five sons and three daughters.

They are the only "centenarian couple" in Shanghai, and the sum of their age ranks at No. 9 on the Chinese mainland.

"I always say that I'm her eye and she is my ear," said Zhang. "We've seldom quarreled since we got married. When we've got something unhappy, we just forget it quickly."

At the end of September, the city had 923 centenarians. Around six people per 100,000 in Shanghai are centenarians. Usually a city is defined as "city of longevity" when the proportion is seven per 100,000 people, said the society. Life expectancy in the city is 81.73 years old, the highest in the country.

Shanghai, however, has an aging population. According to the society, up to the end of last year, the city had about 3.15 million seniors over age 60 - or 22.5 percent of the city's registered population.

By 2015, the number of seniors is expected to increase to 4 million and make up 30 percent of the population.


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