The People’s Republic of China has been like a sleeping giant who woke up, yawned and stretched and entered the new millennium with massive economic reforms that radically changed life for the Chinese.
Today China is the world’s largest exporter of goods and the second largest importer worldwide. It has unseated Japan for the second largest economy in the world and it is predicted that by 2020 China will outstrip the United States in gross domestic product.
With new fiscal policies, however, come significant social change and divorce reform followed on its heels. Women were granted the right to divorce their spouses in 1949 but throughout the decades that followed, divorce was frowned upon and required permission of the state, which was rarely granted.
Divorced persons were ostracized and scorned as immoral and bourgeois by the Communist party.
Divorce laws were amended in the 1980’s, which permitted divorce by agreement with relatively simple paper work at a government office for a cost of $6.00. However, to obtain a divorce you required permission from your employer. Many couples stayed together rather than face the embarrassment of disclosing their marital difficulties. Frequently, employers refused to consent.
In 2003 significant changes were made to the divorce law, eliminating the need for an employer’s approval. A ten to twenty-minute visit to a government office, the correct papers, and a $1.00 fee was all it took.
At about the same time, women were finally permitted to divorce their spouses for abuse and marital unfaithfulness. For husbands with mistresses, wives could receive financial compensation in the form of support and assets.
Since the 2003 amendments, China’s divorce rates have soared with almost two million divorces in 2010. With a population off 1.3 billion, 4500 divorces are filed every day in China.
It is suggested that China’s younger generation is fueling the divorce fires by entering into “lightning marriages” followed by even quicker divorces.