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Marriage Registration to Enter Internet Era

In three years, people will be able to affirm the marital status of others with the assistance of the Internet, the Ministry of Civil Affairs pledged yesterday.

But as the first step into the computer age for marriage registration in China, an online database of overseas-related marriages will be launched early next year.


Overseas-related marriages involve the union of a foreigner and a Chinese citizen or a mainland resident and a person from Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan.


A complete marriage information database for all Chinese citizens will be available within three years.


The achievement will improve the working efficiency of marriage registrations and help prevent polygamy by providing updated information, said Chen Yaoguang, vice-director of the ministry's Department of Construction of Basic-level Government and Community.


A new marriage registration regulation aiming to simplify the registry procedure has been approved by the State Council.


It will make it easier for both Chinese citizens or people from overseas to get married. It comes into effect on October 1.


From then, couples will only have to show their identity cards and residency papers and affirm that they are not married or related, in order to register for marriage.


For overseas-related marriages, besides passports or valid identification cards, expatriates need authenticated documentation proving their single status.


Under the existing rules, which have been used for about nine years, couples are required to produce a letter from their employers proving their non-married status and undergo a health examination.


The new regulation is expected to put the emphasis on "mutual knowledge and mutual willingness" to let individuals decide for themselves what is in their best interests, said Chen Xinxin, a marriage and family expert with the All-China Women's Federation.


However, the new registry procedure is not expected to cause a marriage boom. Many young people are choosing to get married later in life, in addition to cohabitation and celibacy, which are both on the rise, she said.


The number of people registering for marriage in China has decreased steadily over the past five years, latest statistics from the federation show.


(China Daily August 20, 2003)



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