A Chinese human resources official has denied that planned changes to retirement age will start with either civil servants or those engaged in heavy physical labor.
Hu Xiaoyi, deputy head of the Human Resources and Social Security Ministry, made the remarks at a press conference to elaborate on the policy.
Speculation surfaced on the Internet following Hu's remarks earlier this week that postponing the retirement age must go on the government agenda. Netizens surmised that first, laborers engaged in heavy work would be retired at a later date, and government officials would delay their own retirement to benefit more from their posts.
"This is mere speculation," said Hu. "The plan is being drafted and has not been finalized. I have never heard of any such proposals."
The retirement age in China is 60 for men and 55 or 50 for women, but for heavy laborers or those doing dangerous work, men can retire at 55 and women at 45.
Earlier this week Hu suggested that the reform may begin with those entitled to the lowest retirement age and then expand to the rest of populous. INCREMENTAL STEPS
At Thursday's press conference, Hu reiterated the "tiny steps" policy, postponing retirement by a few months in each year to ensure smooth transition.
Zheng Bingwen, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it sent an important message that China will complete the reform over a relatively long period of time.
If the retirement age is moved back by three months each year, it will take four years to raise the retirement age from 60 to 61, and 20 years to extend from 60 to 65, according to Zheng's calculation.
Gong Sen, with the Development Research Center of the State Council, suggested that it should take until 2050 to calibrate retirement age for the whole of society at 65, and that the policy should be published two years in advance to give people time to prepare. IMPACTS ON JOBS
Gong told Xinhua on Thursday that "tiny steps" will help offset negative influences on the job market, adopting a "person month" method to access the effect. Person month is a universal measure of work effort.
If 18 million "new" jobs are created every 12 months, including vacancies left by retirees, then China needs 216 million person months per year.
Gong proposes a postponement of three months each year. Given the retiring population of 7 million each year, the retirees will continue to contribute 21 million person months.
"By comparing 21 million and 216 million, we can conclude that only ten percent of job opportunities will be affected," said Gong.