As nation unites to celebrate, divorces nixed

By Wang Huazhong and Ma Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-09-26 10:35

CHONGQING: The mood of celebration surrounding the nation's 60th anniversary may help to keep China's couples together, whether they like it or not.

In Chongqing, there will be marriages but no divorces during the National Day holiday, which begins on Oct 1 and extends for eight days.

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"We will be working voluntarily during the holiday to issue marriage certificates but we will not be making any divorce appointments," explained an officer, surnamed Wang, who is in charge of the Marriage and Adoption Registration Center (MARC) of Yuzhong district, in central Chongqing city.

Officers volunteering with the heavily populated Jiangbei district MARC made the same decision, saying they simply could not cope with demand during the short-staffed holiday period.

"We encourage district-level agencies to serve citizens on overtime during the holiday. They can decide whether or not to open for divorce applications," said a publicity officer surnamed Cao from the city's MARC.

Calls from China Daily to the city's urban districts found seven of the city's 10 departments will not accept divorce appointments during the National Day holiday.

"I guess the authorities' hands are tied because there are countless marriage registrations," said local teacher Wang Hao. "During such a jubilant anniversary season, when the whole nation is celebrating, a marriage will become more meaningful and unforgettable."

Zhang Li, an officer from the MARC department with Dadukou district, said the National Day period is popular with people wanting to wed, eclipsed only by the highly prized day of Sept 9, which is in demand because the number nine is believed to indicate longevity.

"On that day alone, we recorded 200 weddings," Zhang said. She said staff members from other departments were being drafted in to help out and workers would arrive early for shifts and work through their lunch breaks.

"But, so far, we have not received any calls asking us to process a divorce during the eight-day holiday," Zhang said.

On the street, people were generally supportive of the decision not to process divorces although some questioned the rationale.

"Marriage and divorce are both serious decisions affecting people's lives. Priority should not be measured by the number of applications but by the degree of urgency," said Yuan Baoying, 25.