China: Secrets of a Long Life

China: Secrets of a Long Life


China’s Bama region is home to an astonishing number of people aged over 100. But are they really as old as they claim?


Several million tourists flock to China’s Bama region every year, but it’s not the spectacular scenery they come to see, it’s the large number of residents aged over 100.

A thriving tourism business showcasing the elderly has sprung up as local residents realise that longevity can be profitable.

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Hoping to learn the secret to a long life, visitors come to stare, prod and poke at centennials like Huang Makun, whose family says she is 100 years old.

With her wiry frame swathed in layers of clothing to keep warm, Huang Makun sits on display beside the tourist trinkets for sale.

Hundreds of visitors come every day to inspect her, examining the old woman like a museum exhibit. They often give her money.

“Now that we have so many tourists she is used to it,” one of her relatives says. “She eats when hungry and lets us know when she’s tired. When it is less busy, she lies down. But she won’t disappoint those coming from far away.”

But are these centennials really as old as they claim?

Longevity experts cast doubt on claims that Bama could be home to so many residents over the age of 100, arguing that it is statistically improbable to have such a large number of centennials based in the same area.

101 East travels to China’s Bama region to find out whether the residents are as old as they claim and to discover if they have found the secret to longevity.

Source: Al Jazeera