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Chinese Rage at the Pension System

Civil servants get the best benefits while the rest get much less
Chinese wait outside an exam site before the annual civil service exam in Hefei, Anhui province, in 2010
Chinese wait outside an exam site before the annual civil service exam in Hefei, Anhui province, in 2010Photograph by Imaginechina via AP Images

When a Beijing professor recently suggested pushing back the age at which retirees get their pensions, China’s bloggers let loose. “You’re indeed completely without conscience, a mouth filled with poison and cruelty, your heart that of a beast,” wrote one blogger from Shenyang, in Liaoning province, on the online portal Sohu.com, according to ChinaSMACK, a website that translates Chinese Internet content. “The clamor to postpone the retirement age is getting louder, a raging fire burns in my heart,” wrote another from Jiangxi province. “Tsinghua University truly has raised a bunch of garbage professors,” wrote a blogger from Guangdong, referring to Yang Yansui, director of Tsinghua’s employment and social security institute, who raised the idea.

The heated responses reflect the crisis faced by China’s pension system. A shrinking workforce must support more than 200 million retirees. The government has moved in the last few years to add farmers, the unemployed, and migrant workers to its pension rolls, which now cover more than four-fifths of those registered in cities and 43 percent of rural Chinese.