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China offers funeral subsidies

CHINA'S government plans to cover basic funeral costs for every citizen after reports complaining that Chinese "can't afford to die" as funeral costs soar.

China's Ministry of Civil Affairs announced on its Website today that the government will first start to cover basic funeral costs for poorer people, with coverage eventually expanding to all citizens, without specifying a figure.

The ministry did not give a time frame but has recommended government in wealthier provinces cover funeral expenses for the poor. Beijing City government began offering funeral subsidies of 5,000 yuan (US$732) each in April.

However, some tombs in Shanghai can cost up to 50,000 yuan per square meter, much higher than house prices. Costs of funerals have risen fourfold since the 1990s.

Funeral providers are now hooking up with mortuaries to sell their high-price products.

"The funeral providers are so swift that a salesman even called me before I was told my husband had passed away," a woman surnamed Xu told Southern Metropolis Daily.

The newspaper also revealed that some staff at hospital mortuaries would stop families from taking their dead relative away if they don't buy urns from them.


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