Property companies — which have developed large swathes of Hainan in recent years — also hope to cash in, with the island a hotspot for retirees from across China.
Soaring clumps of newly-built apartment blocks dot the county, with one named “Longevity City” trumpeting the aging population in its advertising.
However, while Chengmai has stepped up investment in elderly care — reporters visited a newly built set of huts for housing those whose families cannot look after them — facilities for the aged themselves remain basic.
“If you’re living in a climate like that you don’t need very much to be comfortable: simple housing, a mosquito net, some rattan chairs and other people to hang out with,” Holdaway said. “It’s a different matter if you live in the north where you have to spend a lot of time indoors and fresh food is expensive in the winter.”
Li Aizhu has a simpler explanation.
“We asked her once,” the 113-year-old’s great-granddaughter, Yi Mei, said. “She said its because she eats a lot of peanut oil, that’s her secret.”