Discover China: Exploring secrets of longevity on China's tropical island
HAIKOU, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- Though 102-year-old Chen Nahua can not read clearly, she watches television news every day to keep abreast of China's development and international affairs.
Chen has undergone a lifetime of vicissitudes. Born during China's revolutionary era, Chen moved to Singapore at the age of 18 and helped mobilize overseas Chinese during World War II. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, she returned in 1951 and took up farming in Wanning County in today's island province of Hainan.
"I worked in the fields until I was 95 years old. Since young, I have tilled farmland, and used to go fishing with my father," she said when asked about the secret of her longevity. "I like to eat fish and local vegetables and fruits."
Chen lives on a state-owned farm at the foot of a mountain, with lush vegetation including coconut, jackfruit and papaya surrounding her house.
The farm also plants coffee beans, and the locals have the habit of drinking coffee. "I drink a cup of coffee with some biscuits every day," Chen said.
"My mother is patient, optimistic and open-minded. I think the secret of her long life is physical labor and peace of mind," said Huang Yuanyu, Chen's 77-year-old son.
Chen's farm is not the only place famed for Wanning residents' longevity. The county was even re-certified by the International Institute on Ageing (INIA) as a "World Longevity Area" in September.
In Wanning's Cunzai, a village with 600 residents, more than 20 people are over 80 years old.
Lin Shichong, 94, and his 88-year-old wife Jiang Chunyuan have lived together for 72 years. They live in an old house with only a few pieces of furniture.
A Qiong Opera artist, Lin had traveled to many places to perform when he was young. Now due to old age, he mostly sings to his wife and children at home.
"Our kids often come to take care of us. We have a culture of respecting the elderly in the village," said the father of six.
According to the health commission of Wanning, the county's average life expectancy reached 79.85 years in 2019. Among the county's population of 580,000, a total of 120 are centenarians.
He Jingping, Party secretary of Wanning, credited the region's fine eco-environment for the locals' longevity. The local forest coverage stands at 66.4 percent, and other contributing factors may include plenty of rain and selenium-rich soil.
In recent years, Wanning county has benefited from China's expanding social safety net and rural revitalization campaign.
"We provide free medical examinations for people aged 65 and above, and regularly arrange doctors and nurses to visit them," said Long Qiaoling, an official with the health commission.
China's life expectancy increased from 76.34 years in 2015 to 77.3 years in 2019, according to the National Health Commission, a reflection of the steady improvement of China's medical and health system in the past five years. Enditem