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10,000 couples split every day in China

Beijing: China`s eye-popping economic growth has caught the world`s attention, but it seems to have hit the family values and lifestyle in the communist nation as over 10,000 couples are splitting daily. China`s divorce rate have reached alarming proportions with over 2.8 million registering for divorce so far this year, according to latest official figures.

Latest figures released by Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs show that in the first three quarters of this year, 2.8 million couples registered for divorce, up 12 per cent year-on-year, which translates to more than 10,000 splits every day. In the past five years, the number of divorces has steadily increased by about 7 per cent year-on-year in China.

While in first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the rate has reportedly surpassed 30 per cent. Peking University law professor, Ma Yinan said the rising trend began as early as the late 1970s, the result of strained marriages that came from differing political perspectives during the "Cultural Revolution" (1966-76). It is a crisis that has escalated, not abated.

China`s transformation to a market economy and modernisation also began to reshape lifestyles and values, including those on marriage, he told official China Daily. For women, economic independence has meant power to be emotionally more independent, making them brave enough to walk out of an unsatisfactory union. There is a new mantra: "Financially, I am independent. I don`t need someone to take care of me. I only look for love," he said.

China`s GDP expanded 10.4 per cent year-on-year in 2010, registering one of the fastest growth in the world. Another contributing factor has emboldened suffering wives: Society is becoming more tolerant toward divorce. Public judgement has shifted from "shame" to "personal choice and privacy", according to Qu Yang, psychiatrist and veteran marriage counsellor at the Beijing National Olympic Psychological Hospital.

Qu recalls from his own childhood being taught that "good people don`t get divorced and divorcees aren`t good". National policies, which reflected the moral values of that time, also dissuaded people. To get a divorce, the couple had to obtain a written recommendation from their employers as well as go through a one-month cooling-off period, he said.

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