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Improved living standards and medical care are helping Chinese live longer, and the number 100 or older has risen to more than 8,000, an official report said today.

More than 8 million Chinese are older than 80, while more than 20 million are older than 70, and more than 120 million are older than 60, Xinhua News Agency said.

China's population 60 or older is rising 3.2 percent annually, while the number 80 or older is climbing 5.4 percent a year, it said, citing the Chinese National Committee on Aging.

Overcrowded China, the world's most-populous country, has imposed a mandatory birth-control policy to limit the growth of its population, which already has surpassed 1.2 billion.

Although enforcement is erratic, most urban families are limited to one child and rural families to two children.

Even with stringent controls, the government expects the population to peak at 1.6 billion in 2025.

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