South Asia and Beyond

A Guide To Contemporary China

 A Guide To Contemporary China

Divorce Within 60 Days

Wuhan, the Chinese city which won worldwide notoriety as the source of the pandemic, appears to have a new claim to fame. Authorities say that since a new law on divorce was enacted in January, nearly half of couples who registered have preferred to withdraw.

Apparently, the secret behind this success is a 60-day cooling-off period when couples are required by law to undergo marriage and family counselling. This period enables the authorities to address what they say are the “three killers” of a perfect marriage: personality differences, “trivial life problems” and lack of communication.

So with the new law now part of China’s civil code, a three-step procedure is detailed. Both sides must give notice for divorce; if either side withdraws, the divorce notice is cancelled. The couple must appear before a local civil affairs bureau where they are questioned about their marriage, what each desires of the other and so on. If no reconciliation is possible, the bureau issues a certificate of divorce. All this is done within 60 days.

Source: Global Times

Taking The Competition Out Of Education

China’s central government is trying to eliminate the “cutthroat competition element” from its education system. A recently released guidebook titled “compulsory education quality evaluation”, will apply to elementary and middle schools, teachers and students, and county-level governments.

It says country governments can no longer decide how many students from middle schools can apply to top high schools. Nor can county schools, principals and teachers be judged solely on students’ academic performances. “This change will fundamentally address the difficulties in effectively implementing reform policies aimed at realizing education for all-round development,” Dong Qi, a director from the Ministry of Education, said.

The Chinese government has been specially concerned about students’ well-being post-pandemic, as a spate of teen suicides was reported in the domestic media last year. This led to talk about mental health, a subject once considered taboo in China. It led to MPs demanding help for students under mental stress. It remains to be seen how the new measures are implemented. Similar efforts in the past did not succeed.


Fighting ‘Myths’ About Xinjiang

China’s media is up in arms about what is claimed to be a “concocted” research report by “anti-China scholar” Zheng Guoen, actually he is a German scholar Adrian Zenz researching on China at the Washington-based Victims of Communism Foundation, a think tank. His reports about forced labour camps and compulsory sterilization of Uyghur women in Xinjiang has drawn Beijing’s ire.

At a briefing organized by China’s Foreign ministry recently, local government leaders from Xinjiang answered questions from domestic and foreign journalists. Yilijiang Anayiti, media spokesperson for the province, said that they “prohibit the implementation of labor induction, forced birth control, forced pregnancy tests in Xinjiang,” as all such activities are considered illegal. Some Uyghurs, who were also present, said they had attended education camps and achieved “great results”.

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One of them, Hailiqihan Yusufu, claimed that prior to the education camp, she was “influenced by extreme religious thoughts that produced many misconceptions”. Medicine, for instance, was generally seen in terms of whether halal or not halal. Such thinking also affected her children. After the camp she claimed she had changed, and there was “laughter at home.” In their view, Zheng Guoen’s report had been dumped.

Source: Xinhua

FDI Rules To Safeguard National Security

The Ministry of Commerce announced that China’s recently enacted rules on FDI should not deter foreign investors. From January this year, foreign companies investing in what are considered critical areas by the Chinese government, such as the military or defense and security, agriculture, energy and technology sectors, would be subjected to security reviews.

Gao Feng, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said “Carrying out security reviews on foreign investments that affect or may affect national security is a regular international practice. Major economies have already set up or are improving such security review mechanisms.” The new rules provide a necessary guarantee for the stable and sound development of the Chinese economy, he added.

According to a recent UN report, China has overtaken the U.S. as the world’s top FDI destination. So there are concerns that the review may imply a protectionist shift and put foreign companies under the “national security” lens. The ongoing trade war with the U.S. has complicated matters given Chinese threats to retaliate against foreign – namely U.S. firms (Washington delisted three Chinese firms from the NYSE in January). The U.S. claimed these were owned or controlled by the Chinese military. Though China did not react then, this new law makes it clear that U.S. firms – already under scrutiny – should expect some blowback.


Creating A WeChat Will

The pandemic has brought forth a new phenomenon in China: WeChat Wills. These are basically posts by people reflecting their thoughts and feelings for loved ones at a time when the pandemic had forced thousands indoors and severely curtailed physical contact. Last year nearly 70,000 people had put out such posts on WeChat that could be passed on to a designated person at a designated time. Most of the people opting for this were the social media savvy generation under the age of 20.

These are not wills in any sense. Those shared by the elderly comprised advice and encouragement to their children. Conversely, posts by children reflected feelings of “guilt” for not taking better care of their parents, this was when some parents laid down what should be done with their property if they were to pass away. Crushes, venting about the unfairness of the pandemic, saying ‘I love you’ to partners and parents and setting goals for oneself were other posts.