I think it’s only when Americans read stories like this that they get a glimpse of just how different the Chinese psyche is from their own.
China said it would lift from September a 50-year ban on college students marrying or bearing children but warned the relaxed regulations should not change academic priorities.
Students of legal marriage age — 22 for males and 20 for females — will no longer need to seek approval from university officials to tie the knot, the Ministry of Education said on its website.
For decades students contemplating marriage or who become pregnant have faced the dilemma of whether to give up studying or delay their wedding, or stay in school and have an abortion.
The regulation came under particularly strong criticism from graduate students, many of whom, under the threat of expulsion, were forced to hold off on reciting marriage vows or starting families.
The new rule follows a law enacted in 2003 that abolished the need for engaged couples to request from employers or superiors a certificate of approval to wed.
Until recent years, Chinese remained beholden to the state for the most basic needs such as provisions for housing, a child’s education or the right to get hitched.
Just a couple of weeks ago I read that the CCP has also made some changes in divorce procedures: You no longer have to get your employer’s permission before receiving an official divorce.
Now, to the Western mind this is almost incomprehensible. Ask your boss for permission to get a divorce? Be thrown out of college for getting married? It’s hard for us to grasp that this could actually have been acceptable for generations and even into the 21st century, and that the Chinese simply accepted it. A whole different outlook as to how society operates and the role of the individual.
Meanwhile, it’s good to see they are breaking free of at least some of those restrictions that serve no purpose except to limit personal freedom. God knows, it’s about time.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.