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Better Protect Chinese Women from Unhappy Foreign Marriages
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More than a dozen female political advisors have urged the government to tighten up examination of marriage applications involving Chinese women and foreign nationals to better protect the rights and interests of those women who blunder into unhappy wedlocks.

"In recent years, Chinese embassies and consulates on foreign soils often receive complaints from Chinese women married to foreign nationals, who are subject to domestic violence, sex abuses and even illegal confinement by their husbands," said Ren Yuanzheng, a member of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body in its annual full session here.

Ren said loopholes in China's existing laws and regulations regarding foreign marriages are one of the factors to blame for the lack of adequate protection of those women.

According to Ren, the current regulations on Chinese-foreigner marriages only require the foreign national involved to present documents of personal identification, but fail to check the income status of the foreign national or whether the couple can afford a stable marriage life.

"Due to the cultural and wealth gap between the Chinese women and their foreign husbands, their marriages are often prone to various misunderstandings and conflicts. As many of the Chinese wives lack the self-protection awareness and are too shy to tell their sad stories to others, they often face escalating violence and maltreatment from their foreign husbands," said Ren.

As the International Women's Day fell on Wednesday, Ren, along with 16 other female CPPCC members, has submitted a proposal to the ongoing session, calling for stricter examination of foreign marriage applications by relevant government departments.

"We demand the foreign national involved in such a marriage application be required to present his taxation documents or assets evaluation papers, to prove that he has a normal income sufficient for supporting a normal marriage life," said Ren.

The foreign applicant should also deliver a letter of guarantee, pledging to pay the return airfare for the Chinese wife once the couple seek a divorce, and to cover basic living expenses of the wife before a court verdict on the divorce is passed upon, she added.

Marriages between Chinese and foreign nationals have been on a constant rise since China opened itself to the outside world nearly three decades ago. In 2004, the country's civil affairs departments registered more than 4,000 Chinese-foreigner marriages, and also handled nearly 1,000 divorce applications from such marriages.

(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2006)

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