Before Li Zhenxuan died at the age 101, the former chief officer of a Chinese riverboat told his son he wanted his ashes to be scattered at sea along with those of his mother, who passed away in 1965, and his wife, who died in 1995.

On a rainy Saturday this month, his son emptied three bags of ashes into the wind and sea from a boat near the mouth of the Yangtze River, granting Li's final wish.

Faced with an aging population, soaring property prices and increasingly scarce land, the Chinese government has been trying for years to convince more people to break with tradition and bury loved ones at sea.