Li Xiuying celebrated her 96th birthday on Oct 10 with her family. As she reached 96, the "old age premium" - a sum she had been receiving on her birthday since 2002 from the Caoqiao village committee - more than doubled from 40,000 yuan (,010) to 100,000 yuan.
"The policy's good. I'm truly thankful," Li said as she sat in an armchair in her apartment, greeting guests who came to send their regards ahead of Chongyang Festival, which falls on Saturday this year.
The festival, which is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, celebrates the elderly and offers an opportunity to show respect for their contributions.
In Caoqiao, all the villagers over 75 receive the premium on their birthday, with the amount depending on the recipient's age.
Those between 75 and 80 receive 10,000 yuan per year, and another 10,000 yuan will be added to the premium for villagers of the next five-year age group. But villagers over 95 receive 100,000 yuan.
In 2017, more than 240 villagers were entitled to this birthday gift, and more than 2 million yuan had been given out in the first half of the year, according to the village committee.
"Caoqiao will continue this premium policy for the elders, and the amount will increase further in accordance with village revenue," said Sun Wentao, director of the village's publicity office.
Caoqiao is located in Fengtai district in the southwest suburb of Beijing and has been enriched by a collectively-owned flower business since the early 1990s. In 2002, the villager shareholders voted to set up a premium for people above the age of 80. The initiative is intended to provide a financial guarantee for the elderly, and to encourage children - usually in their 50s - to take better care of their parents.
At the beginning, those between 80 and 90 could only receive 3,000 yuan, and those between 91 and 100 can get 6,000 yuan. Those 100 and above would receive 9,000 yuan. But as the village revenue increased, the village committee lowered the recipient age to 75 and increased the amount.
Guo Liming, 55, a Caoqiao resident whose mother is also a beneficiary of the premium, said there had been children who wouldn't take care of their parents because of the financial burden, and the premium now encourages children to treat their parents better.
"Children tend to take better care of their aged parents when the elders are financially independent," he said.
Gao Shumin, 68, who will receive the premium in seven years, said she would consider donating the money to people in need, because so far the villagers above 65 can get full reimbursement for their medical expenses - one of the few costly items for the elderly.
"Though a small amount, I wish the money would benefit people really in need," she said.