China claims the oldest person ever recorded

Almihan Seyiti

A woman in western China claims to have just celebrated her 128th birthday which would make her the oldest person in recorded history.

Almihan Seyiti, from the Xinjiang region, lives in a village near the city of Kashgar. A member of the Uighur Turkic minority, she is vigorous, and enjoys singing, playing the dutar musical instrument and occasionally helping out on the farm, Xinjiang TV-2 reports. The state channel, aware of separatist sentiment among Uighurs, is keen to have Mrs Seyiti express her gratitude to the Chinese Communist authorities: "They threw a good birthday party for me with my family, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My life is good. The authorities treat me well. They have built a house for me, where I live. I am very happy," she told the reporter.

But no one outside China is likely to accept Mrs Seyiti's claim at face value. Birth records in the outlying regions of the 19th Century Chinese empire were sparse and unreliable, especially for the ethnic minorities, and China has reported Uighurs living into their 120s before without any solid evidence. The oldest verified person was a Frenchwoman, Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 aged 122, but Mrs Seyiti enjoyed her party nonetheless.

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