Sunday, March 11, 2007

2007 NPC, CPPCC Journal, Day 7

Mr. Han Deyun

Suggestion on Abolishing “Illegal Cohabitation” Triggered Debate

The proposal of abolishing the notion of “illegal cohabitation,” referring to man and woman living together without legitimate marriage, has triggered harsh debate among China’s web-using public, who is widely divided on this issue.

Han Deyun, an American-educated lawyer representing Chongqing in the National People’s Congress, said during the meeting that “the concept of illegal cohabitation should now disappear from people’s life,” China Youth Daily reported.

He said that the term was coined at the end of the 1980s in order to denounce couples living together without marriage, and was more of a moral censure than legal judgment. At that time, when such cohabiting became a surging trend, the society was largely intolerant with such a behavior.

The notion of “illegal cohabitation,” according to Mr. Han, does not make much sense in legal terms and China’s Marriage Law does not prohibit man and woman living together without marriage. Mr. Han suggested replacing the term with “invalid marriage.”

Commenting on Mr. Han’s view in forum, people agreed with him almost as much as they did not.

Those applauded Mr. Han’s suggestion held that it is not reasonable to define as “illegal” something “so normal and widely existing.”

Indeed, Chinese society has been much more tolerant with dating couples, both not married, living together without officially tying the knot. “If based on mutual-agreement, it [living together] should be protected [by law],” reads one comment. “In the future, such a situation where a dating couple is deemed as illegally living together should absolutely never happen again.”

Another poster agrees, “Although [living together before getting married] contradicts old traditional moral views, it does not go against the new ones…. Such phenomena have been accepted by many parents.”

As put in one comment, many people now consider living together as “personal freedom” and “very romantic.”

Many other people, however, not only disagreed with abolishing “illegal cohabitation,” but proposed changing the Marriage Law to make cohabitation outside existing legitimate marriage “really illegal,” such as keeping mistresses. They said the concept should stay to identity those married people who live with someone other than their spouses.

There are also comments warning that learning too much openness and freedom from Western society is not good. “The West is advanced in science and technology, but not all culture copied from the West is good.”

Online Comments

Wu Bangguo, Chairman of NPC standing committee, delivered his work report of the standing committee on Sunday. He discussed issues like the supervising power of the NPC, and reviewed several law revisions, including the Compulsory Education Law.


Krem said...

This issue is at the moment a hot topic in Southern China Jimei University!

There, the students have a new Web 2.0 craze, called "The Trekker Diaries".

It's an interactive Web 2.0 adventure published weekly. The readers can influence the story and give hints to the principal characters by voting. Then the adventure is published in English.

The Diaries is supposed to be a completely new entertainment genre between the Chinese "wuxia" (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, etc.) and Western James Bond stuff.

The aim is to give a - so far unheard - voice to the Chinese students.

Chapter 5 has just been published in China. The readers can vote whether the hero (Krem Trekker) falls in love with the heroine (Li TingTing). If yes, the readers must later decide will TingTing overnight at Krem's place and so on...

There should be a little bit romance, but the dilemma seems to be how far they can go.

This is completely a non-commercial venture and the English pages are at:


Dr. Mauri G Gronroos
Associate Professor
of Knowledge Management
and Intellectual Property Rights
361021 Xiamen, Fujian

Josie Liu said...

sounds very interesting.

hari deepak said...

interesting article.......Well with dating becoming more and more common these days....It is really difficult to see the difference between "illegal cohabitation" and dating....also was recently reading some article about marriages being very very costly in china...could this be leading to the process of illegal cohabitation in any way?

Also is this expanding dust bowl problem(desert expansion) very acute ...Heard deserts were closing in on beijing....The main reasons were cited as excessive overgrazing and excessive industrialization of agricultural lands.....Could this in anyway be detrimental to the coming olympics? Also could it adversely affect the lives of millions of chinese people?Are they any visible measures being undertaken by the government to stem this problem?

Sorry if i should have posted the second part of this comment somewhere else..Thought it was an very serious problem as dust bowls were known to wreck havoc on lives,They were known destroy agrarian economies(ex. arizona dustbowl 1930)....Could this be the side effect of china's industrialization..what is your opinion on this? Would it be too far fetched to say that lack of empathy for environment could lead to the downfall of capitalism?

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