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Hangzhou to offer first free funeral services

07-01-2010 10:52 BJT

BEIJING, July 1 (Xinhuanet) -- Starting on Thursday, Zhejiang province's Hangzhou city will stop charging residents for basic funeral services, becoming the country's first city to provide practically free cremations.

Hangzhou citizens burn incenses on April 4 in memory of their deceased family members at a cemetery in East China's Zhejiang province.(Photo: China Daily)
Hangzhou citizens burn incenses on April 4 in memory of their deceased family members 
at a cemetery in East China's Zhejiang province.(Photo: China Daily)

Free services include transportation, storage and cremation of the body, along with one year of ash storage, a notice issued by the local civil affairs department said.

Other costs, such as the purchase of urns, will only be exempted for those living below the local poverty line, it added.

The program, funded by the local government, mainly targets locals with hukou, or residency permits. But it will also cover active military personnel and registered university students who live in Hangzhou, as well as migrant workers who have worked in the city for at least a year, Hangzhou Daily reported on Wednesday.

"The program will benefit many people, including those without a local hukou, and will guarantee more respect in life and after death," said a Hangzhou civil affairs department director, who declined to disclose his name.

Recent national media coverage revealed that, in some parts of China, the poor could not even afford their own funerals. State-owned companies are responsible for funeral services.

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