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Notarization Gains Popularity Among Chinese
"I need to have my will notarized so as to leave my house for my grandson," a septuagenarian granny surnamed Li said to officials at the notary office of Liuzhou City, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

"If any disputes arise in the future, my will can be legally protected because it is notarized," Li told the reporter.

As a preventive legal action, notarization is increasingly favored by Chinese citizens as a sharp weapon protecting their legal rights and interests.

Sources from the Ministry of Justice revealed that with the continuous development of the past two decades and more, China has established more than 3,100 notary offices involving over 20,000 notaries.

China now issues 10 million notarization certificates annually, which are used in over 180 counties and regions, according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice.

The practice became legal in China in 1982 when the first national provisional ordinance on notarization was promulgated.

This special judicial service has expanded its scope widely in recent years, as demonstrated by the burgeoning of notarization related to foreign matters.

The majority of such cases concern studying or working overseas, visiting relatives and traveling overseas, and housing deals involving foreigners.

Experts attributed the growing popularity to the increasing number of Chinese who emigrate to other countries, study abroad at their own expense or go abroad for foreign aid.

With the strengthening of legal awareness among China's citizens, notarization has penetrated into nearly all aspects of people's daily lives. Domestic cases mainly deal with buying apartments via a loan, mortgages, wills, inheritances, guardianship and sponsorship.

After the new marriage law was implemented, notarization on prenuptial agreements began to boom in China.

An official survey showed more than half of China's married women, most of whom are aged from 35 to 45, favored prenuptial agreement notarization in order to prevent disputes over their belongings with their spouses.

Many single young Chinese also believed in legal documentation to protect their property and assets before entering wedlock, according to the survey.

Sociologists consider that notarization is playing an increasingly significant role in preventing economic disputes and reducing social conflicts as well as in ensuring the security of economic entities in various business deals.

"Notarization has changed Chinese people's way of life and their mode of conduct," said jurist Tang Liangwei, adding that its functions will be further enhanced with the deepening of China's reform and opening up.

(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2003)

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