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For love or property, law sheds a light

By Li Hong (People's Daily Online)

07:59, August 23, 2011

It is true that people are becoming more materialized 30 years after Deng Xiaoping's reform and openness set a new trailblazer for China. Though we often pad each other for our successes, it is cynical and annoying if only one topic always dominates our dinner table.

I was dumb struck the other day on the subway eavesdropping three young women talk in lowered voice: "A man is worth less, if not worthless, now, if he cannot afford a house for his marriage." I felt sad for the women deciding men's value on just one criterion – their money-making ability.

Not long before, we all heard a woman attending a popular TV match-making program declare that she was more willing to weep in a man's luxury car, than laugh on the back of a bicycler. The revelation has spoken of many women's preference of interests over affection when looking for a partner.

Our forefathers tell us that a marriage built on the premise of materials – including home and car ownership and piles of bank savings – is shaky, but seldom young women dare to brace for the opposite. Their addiction of men's belongings, capricious to many, remains hard to be swayed.

Then came the epoch-making new judicial interpretation of China's Marriage Act a week ago by the Supreme People's Court. The legal explanation rules that houses and other major properties – not explicitly put in the name of both partners on legal papers – are solely belongings of the initial owner.

As China's men are often obligated to buy a home before marriage – mostly with financial assistance from the parents, the interpretation rules the property should continue to be men's once a couple break up. Previously, the law says the properties must be evenly cut and distributed between the two divorced partners.

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