A searchable database of marriage registration records is being set up as a first step in helping to prevent bigamy in Beijing.
Eighteen districts and counties are taking part, forming a network through which marriage records can be checked to ensure that neither bride- nor groom-to-be are already wed to anyone else.
Ten areas of the capital, including Xicheng, Changping, Fengtai and Tongzhou, have already joined the scheme, while several others are currently testing their systems in readiness to link up.
Database construction and management has been given top priority by Beijing’s Marriage Registration Department, according to sources in the city’s Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs.
Using the new network, a computer can instantly display someone’s marital status and any previous marriage registration records.
The information will be confidential since only authorized staff can access the system, according to Li Ziwei, leader of the bureau’s Marriage Registration Department.
Of course, the new system will only work in these areas of Beijing – a nationwide network would need to be set up in order to trace records from across the country.
The use of e-government in marriage registration has advanced a great deal. People can now get information on the process as well as downloadable forms from the bureau’s website. However, they still need to appear in person to finalize all formalities by signing a personal declaration in front of registration staff.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Tingting, November 10, 2004)