China Cities Running Out of Room for Dead

With 9M Burials a Year, officials look for alternatives
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2011 4:33 PM CDT
A Chinese couple cleans the tomb of a family member during the Qingming Festival (also known as Grave Sweeping Day) in Beijing on Tuesday, April 5.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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(Newser) – The flip side of China's booming population: 9 million burials a year and packed cemeteries. Burial plots are getting so scarce that officials are urging a cultural shift by encouraging the scattering of ashes at sea, reports USA Today. Beijing, for instance, is destined to "become just a city of tombs" unless things change, says the head of the China Funeral Association. Some cemeteries are so expensive that the term "grave slave" is in the lexicon, referring to those who must work hard so they can afford to die.

"If you want a tomb, you must accept it will only be for 20 or 30 years," says the funeral official. "People say, 'You can't touch my ancestors,' but you have chosen to live in the city."

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