Marriage

People walk at a shopping mall complex in Beijing, China, on 16 April 2022. (Jade Gao/AFP)

Why swear words derogating women have proliferated on the Chinese internet

The use of “national swear” (国骂) in the Chinese language has been a topic of discussion for the past century, with its derogatory nature towards women long known. From seemingly harmless insults to women’s intelligence to malicious debasing of female ancestors, why is the use of such language still prevalent on the internet today?
Men in China's rural areas find themselves in a tough situation when it comes to marriage. (Noel Celis/AFP)

When millions of rural Chinese men are desperate for a wife

In China’s rural areas, despite traditional pressures to get married, young men are finding themselves in a difficult position as the high gender imbalance has led to a short supply of marriageable women. Furthermore, men who are not well-off cannot find wives, with many of the women looking to marry men with better prospects in other towns and cities as a means of upward social mobility. These social problems have led to the abduction and trafficking of women in rural China. Zaobao correspondent Wong Siew Fong visits some villages to find out more about these crimes.
Couples attend a group wedding ceremony at a marriage registry in Donghai, Jiangsu province, China, on 22 February 2022, a palindrome day written as "22-2-22". (AFP)

Monogamy or polygamy: An economic choice?

One may be tempted to assume that monogamy is the ideal that humans aspire to, but this is not the case, says Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui. He explains why different marriage systems were devised to maximise economic benefits.
This file photo taken on 25 April 2021 shows a medical staff member taking care of a newborn baby in the paediatric ward of a hospital in Fuyang in China's eastern Anhui province. (AFP)

China wants to reverse its high abortion rate with pro-birth policies, and young women are not happy

As a result of the country’s now-abolished one-child policy and other factors, abortion has gained wide acceptance among women in China. A recent work plan by the national family planning unit stated its intention to “intervene” in abortions for unmarried women has sparked backlash that women would lose their reproductive autonomy. Zaobao correspondent Wong Siew Fong speaks with researchers and Chinese women to understand the policy implications on women’s rights and how the issue will impact China’s shrinking birth rate.
A woman rests on the steps of an underpass in Beijing, China, on 28 February 2022. (Noel Celis/AFP)

A Singaporean in China: Can there be justice for trafficked women sold as wives?

Former journalist Jessie Tan has generally felt safe living and moving around Beijing in the last one and a half years. However, the recent news of human trafficking in China’s rural counties has shed light on a parallel world that puts women’s safety at risk. The case of the Feng county chained mother of eight has led to some actions from the authorities. However, more can be done and the Chinese public wants harsher punishments for perpetrators and more resources allocated to help prevent such crimes from happening again.
Children play with an ice sculpture of three astronauts in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China, on 28 December 2021. (AFP)

Why extended maternity leave will not encourage childbirth in China

Li Jingkui explains that having children is very much an economic decision with hard choices involved, particularly for women. Research has shown that women’s chances of gaining employment after bearing their first child fall by 6.6%, and by another 9.3% after the second child. The government believes that an extended maternity leave policy will aid women and increase the nation’s fertility rate, but the reality may be much to the contrary.
Based on the photo in this marriage certificate, the appearance and age of the woman the authorities initially identified as 'surnamed Yang' did not match the footage of the chained woman circulated online. (Weibo)

‘The world has abandoned me’: Chinese women married into slavery?

Chinese academic Lorna Wei says that the authorities’ determination to root out human trafficking may waver, but netizens’ voices speaking up for the victims — often women married off into other counties — will not be silenced. This may be the only comfort that countless women suffering alone can take solace in.
A couple poses during a pre-nuptial photography session in front of Drum Tower in Beijing, China, on 21 December 2021. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Elderly Chinese want a second chance at love

Demand for matchmaking services and platforms is on the rise for China’s growing elderly population. Though these people have plenty of life experience, it seems they still conform to the expectations of society, be it assessing a mate by monetary criteria or fearing gossip for seeking a second chance at love. Under the weight of societal norms, their quest for love is riddled with obstacles. On a lighter note, the plethora of elderly matchmaking variety shows that have spawned do provide some entertainment and fun for this segment of the population.
A gay pride parade in Taiwan, 2018. (Wikimedia)

Taiwan allowing cross-strait same-sex unions: A bargaining chip in the reunification tussle?

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has announced proposed amendments to the “Cross-Strait Act” to allow same-sex unions between partners from Taiwan and mainland China. Is this a bid by Taiwan to woo the gay community in mainland China ahead of reunification, as some netizens speculate? And will mainland China adopt an even more conservative position given that room to discuss LGBT issues has shrunk amid recent clampdowns? Zaobao’s China Desk delves into the topic.