Chinese children are now required by law to regularly visit and care for their parents.
"Family members who live apart from their parents should visit often or send their regards to their parents," states the new Elderly Protection law, which came into force yesterday.
It says anyone "neglecting the elderly" could face court action.
Although filial piety has traditionally been one of China's core virtues, there have been increasing reports in the media of parental neglect, culminating last year in a case of a woman in her 90s who was forced by her son to live in a pigsty for two years.
Of 200 million Chinese over the age of 60, nearly a third live in poverty, spending less than 3200 yuan ($670) a year, a survey by Chinese and international academics shows.
However, the new law seems both unenforceable and largely symbolic. There is no specified penalty for breaking it. In Singapore, by contrast, parents can sue their adult children for a monthly allowance.
One person on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter, said: "We work every weekend and only get to go home once a year. The overtime we get paid does not even cover our train ticket. It is up to our bosses whether we get to see our parents."