A man was sentenced to 18 months in prison yesterday for abandoning his mother in a public square over a year ago, the Zhabei district people's court said.
Wang Kouma, 54, was found guilty of leaving his 83-year-old mother, Teng Jindi, at People's Square on Oct 11 last year.
He had earlier taken 270,000 yuan ($39,500) from her that had been given to her by the government as relocation expenses.
Police later found Teng, and a neighborhood committee took her to a hostel.
The committee appealed to Teng's five sons and two daughters to care for the woman, but they all said she was Wang's responsibility as he had taken the government money.
While Wang was the only one charged, none of Teng's seven children visited her at the hostel, Tao Yichu from the neighborhood committee said in court.
Teng died of a heart attack on Jan 5.
Wang was arrested in June and charged on Sept 26.
In court he denied abandoning his mother.
"I went to buy cigarettes, and when I came back she had disappeared," he said.
"I looked for her until 8 in the evening."
His attorney, Jin Honglin, said that as Wang was only one of seven children, he should not have had sole responsibility for caring for his mother, even if he had taken the government allowance.
The neighborhood committee did not tell Wang of his mother's whereabouts, and he had nothing to do with her death, he said.
But witnesses painted a different picture.
Wang Lijun, the police officer who found Teng, said: "She told me that her son had told her to ask the government for a place to live."
The court ruled that Wang abandoned his mother despite knowing she was in poor health.
As yet, he has not filed an appeal.
Chinese law states that anyone who fails in his or her duty to support an aged, minor or sick family member who later dies shall be sentenced to a prison term of not more than five years.
Zhang Jiehai, a sociologist with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the case demonstrated the weaknesses of the current social welfare system and that Wang's siblings should also be punished for not caring for their mother.
"In an aging society, a better system must be set up to care for the elderly," he said.
By the end of last year, more than 20 percent of Shanghai's permanent residents were aged over 60.
"I expect there to be more cases like this in the future," Zhang said.
"As people live longer, families must care for each other."
1. How old was the granny who was abandoned by her children?
2. What was the excuse the eldest son gave to the police concerning his mother’s disappearance?
3. How much money had the eldest son Wang taken from the mother, money that had been given to her by the government as relocation expenses?
2. He said he just went off to buy a pack of cigarettes and when he came back she was gone.
3. 270,000 yuan.
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）
Brendan joined The China Daily in 2007 as a language polisher in the Language Tips Department, where he writes a regular column for Chinese English Language learners, reads audio news for listeners and anchors the weekly video news in addition to assisting with on location stories. Elsewhere he writes Op’Ed pieces with a China focus that feature in the Daily’s Website opinion section.
He received his B.A. and Post Grad Dip from Curtin University in 1997 and his Masters in Community Development and Management from Charles Darwin University in 2003. He has taught in Japan, England, Australia and most recently China. His articles have featured in the Bangkok Post, The Taipei Times, The Asia News Network and in-flight magazines.