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Marriage Boom Expected During National Day Holiday

The cancellation of pre-marital physical check-ups in October has led to the postponement of marriage registration by many couples in Beijing, but local registry offices say they are ready for an expected crest of registrations during the National Day holiday in early October.

Currently, couples are required to undergo mandatory medical examinations if they want to get married. But a new regulation on marriage registration, which was passed by the State Council last month and will come into effect on October 1, makes the physical check-up a voluntary action.

It is widely regarded as a move to simplify the marriage registration process and offer more personal choices.

Some critics have challenged the regulation, saying it conflicts with the Law on Mother and Infant Healthcare which stipulates that couples should undergo physical check-ups before getting married.

The Beijing Health Bureau recently said it will enforce the law on mother and infant healthcare until it is amended or abolished.

The bureau argued that the law, which was passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in 1994, takes precedence over the regulation, and that enforcement of this law should therefore prevail.

Many scholars have hailed the new regulation as socially progressive and significant for human rights protection, but some are still arguing about the legality of the cancellation. However, many couples in the capital city have put off their registration plans to wait for the newly provided convenience.

"The cancellation will certainly make the marriage registration process simpler and less expensive," said Xiao Hua, a 26-year-old employee in a public relations company in Beijing.

Xiao got married last month and she said it took her two days to get the result of the physical check-up and that they spent more than 100 yuan (US$12) on it.

"Had I known the regulation earlier I would have postponed my registration too, because the check-up is just a kind of formality and a waste of time as far as I'm concerned," she added.

Beijing Star Daily reported yesterday that a boom of marriage registration during the upcoming seven-day-long National Day holiday is expected and all registry offices have prepared themselves for this.

Only two to three couples have come to register this month, far less than the usual 30 to 60 couples in former years, the paper quoted Li Ziwei, a division chief with the Beijing Marriage Registry Office, as saying.

Li said the couples may have to line up to get their marriage certificates during the National Day holiday this year.

She said none of the registry offices in Beijing will close during the holiday and they will not shut the door until all couples have obtained their marriage certificates.

(China Daily September 15, 2003)

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