Two senior residents in China's Tianjin are seen in a local park doing morning exercises. Photo: Xinhua via VCG
Two senior residents in China's Tianjin are seen in a local park doing morning exercises. Photo: Xinhua via VCG

At 68.7 years, Chinese babies born today enjoy slightly longer “healthy life expectancy at birth” – a term referring to the number of years one stays physically fit – than their American counterparts. In the USA, the corresponding figure is 68.5 years, according to the latest World Health Statistics compiled by the World Health Organization.  

Huang Kuangshi, of the Chinese Population and Development Research Center, told the Guangzhou-based South Metropolis Daily that Beijing must be credited for its work to provide medical insurance coverage for all, as well as its campaigns to promote healthy living. The US, he says, mainly has obesity to blame for declines in this respect.  

Somalia, Afghanistan, Georgia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines also saw their healthy life expectancy at birth drop significantly.

China is ranked 37th out of all the countries examined by the WHO while the US is in 40th place.

But China still lags behind the US in overall life expectancy: 76.4 versus 78.5 years. This indicates that Americans on average have longer “ailing” life expectancy, which in turn points to a higher standard of medical services than those available in China.

The report also paints a gloomy picture of the last ten years of life for the average American, many of whom might spend long periods under hospital care due to chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer or cardiovascular diseases brought on by unhealthy diets and lifestyles.

Newborns inside a public hospital in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua via VCG


Meanwhile, Beijing says the nation’s life expectancy compares favorably to those of fellow members of the developing world.

Well-off coastal provinces and directly-controlled municipalities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu all rank highly in overall life expectancy. For instance, Shanghai’s figure was 83 years last year, almost in league with developed countries.

Chinese statistics exclude those from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan where, in 2017, respective life expectancy figures were 84.7, 83.1 and 80 years.

Hong Kong residents are among the world’s longest-living, and its 84.7 years of life expectancy means a baby born in the city in 2017 is likely to live beyond the year 2100.