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Poser on Parental Support
Do college students have the right to demand support from their parents? A Beijing court has said "no."

The Dongcheng District Court in Beijing heard a case recently in which a college girl accused her father of not covering her tuition and living expenses.

Dai Xue'er, a student at the Beijing Film Academy was living with her mother. The girl's parents were divorced. She took her father to court to get him to pay 48,486 yuan in education and medical costs.

But she lost the case.

This may strike some people as a rather extreme or cruel action, but the father was perfectly within his rights.

Cai Xuedong, a research fellow affiliated with the court, explained that the Marriage Law revision - which took effect last December - considers college students like Dai to be "independent."

That means they do not have the right to claim support from parents and a father does not have a legal duty to provide financial support.

Not surprisingly, the case has generated a great deal of discussion. Many Chinese parents still believe they should give their children some form of aid during their school years.

Xiao Chao, whose son is a third-year student at Hohai University in Nanjing, said he would support the boy until he finds a job.

This sense of parental responsibility is considered fairly typical. Parents know that a 20-year-old son or daughter may still depend on them a great deal, an idea that is certainly old.

But, in fact the new Marriage Law takes a more modern view in regarding them independent.

The law states that anyone who has finished senior high school and can work has no right to demand parental support.

"In defining 'independence,' two factors were involved," explains Xia Yinlan, a professor at the University of Political Science and Law who helped interpret the new Marriage Law.

The legal age is 18, as it is in many countries, and that's college age for most students.

Xia says that it's common for college students to earn their own living elsewhere.

He says that the revised Marriage Law considers college students "capable of living on their own" and is meant to urge them to become financially independent.

But many people still argue that parental funding is crucial for higher education.

Zhou Yuanbo, a law professor at Nanjing University, says simply: "It's not easy for kids. Many students can't even take care of themselves in daily life, let alone support themselves financially."

Qian Zhong, the head of the Student Affairs Office at Nanjing University believes that parental support should continue until the student finds a job after graduation. "College students should concentrate on study instead of earning money," he said.

(China Daily HK Edition August 29, 2002)

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