A grave concern in China

In the hit comedy “If You Are the One”, star Ge You goes on a blind date with the intention of finding love, but instead ends up buying two cemetery plots after being convinced prices will surge tenfold. Although an amusing scene in the movie, the soaring cost of graves is no laughing matter for many Chinese.

In 2009, trade union worker Sun Li spent 60,000 yuan ($9,200) – more than his entire family earns in a year – for 0.5 square meters in Beijing’s Futian cemetery to inter his father-in-law’s ashes. Today, a similar plot in the same place costs about 100,000 yuan, while Sun’s income remains unchanged. “I wish I could have bought a bigger place for my father-in-law, but I did my best,” said the 49-year-old, as he prepared to mark Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-sweeping Day, on April 5.

This is the time of year when Chinese, young and old, honor lost loved ones and ancestors by tending to their graves, often leaving offerings of food and wine, as well as burning paper money to be used in the afterlife. It is a tradition that has stood for countless generations, fueled largely by the great pride people take in heritage.

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