China is trying to make both marriage and divorce easier, more private and healthier, said China's Minister of Civil Affairs, Li Xueju.
A network of marriage registration offices now covers 97 percent of all counties in the country encouraging couples in remote rural areas to make their marriages legal, said Li at a national conference on Sunday.
There are currently 12,397 marriage registries in China and since 2005 the country has been working to standardize registrations throughout the nation. Li said some couples didn't bother registering their marriages as such offices were often far away from their home villages.
"Problems still exist as only a few provincial governments have set up marriage registry databases. This has hindered the process of issuing marriage certificates," said Li. Many local governments had yet to budget for marriage registration offices, he observed. "An efficient process should be worked out to make registration much easier for people."
The Minister also said since 2003 when new regulations did away with compulsory pre-marital physical check-ups fewer than 10 percent of couples are now having them before they tie the knot. The number is less than one percent of all couples in some locations.
However, a number of local governments in Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei and Shanghai are offering free pre-marital check-ups. Some Chinese experts want the compulsory pre-marital medical restored to ensure there are fewer problem births.
Li said Chinese people could now marry or divorce much more easily as employers need not necessarily be notified or asked to provide recommendations on the suitability of an employee's plans.
(Xinhua News Agency December 11, 2006)