No sooner had I settled on my stool at the Redmoon Bar in Beijing when the bartender, seeing that I was by myself, put into my hand a copy of City Weekend Beijing Magazine with this on its cover : ”Untying the Knot: 1.6 million Chinese couples called it quits last year- why? Money, Power and Pretty Young Things!”
The divorce rate is very low in China, the writer reassures us (its gone from 0.07% to 0.21% in the last ten years), yet talk about it is in the air. “Chinese Style Divorce”, a 22-episode TV serial was last season’s most popular show; a book withe the same name sold 100,000 copies in its first print run and the words ‘ Chinese Style Divorce’ was the most requested word on Boxun’s Search Engine in 2004.
Wealthy and powerful men,have begun flaunting their riches by adopting a practice known as ‘baoernai’, the taking of a second wife. If you are a woman born in the 1960’s , if you get divorced, you are a loser, he quotes a woman divorce lawyer as saying.
But the tide may turn soon, says the author- some 30-40 million men, known as guanggun or ‘bare branches’ may find it tough to find wives by 2020. The Chinese predilection for boys ( he doesnt say how this ‘predilection’ is acted upon) has already resulted in there being only 100 girls for every 130 boys.
The Chinese apppear to be taking all this in their national stride and quote a saying: ‘Men turn bad once they get rich, women only get rich when they turn bad’.