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Love and Sex in China

Average Chinese Gets Married At 26

A new report points out that the majority of Chinese people get married around the age of 26, and live within traditional family and household structures.

Manya Koetse

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Although Chinese society has rapidly changed over the past decades, little seems to have changed in when people get married and how the household is managed. A new report points out that the majority of Chinese people get married around the age of 26, and live within traditional family and household structures.

The   All China Women’s Federation recently published the “Happy Marriage & Household Report” (中国幸福婚姻家庭调查报告). The report, that contains data and information about various issues within Chinese family structures, points out that the average age of marriage in China is 26. It also writes that over 90% of married women in China tie the knot before the age of 30. The “Happy Marriage & Household Report” results come from a nationwide year-long survey, with 10.000s of questionnaires in ten different provinces, Global Times writes.

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The report indicates that the average ages for marriage are 26.3 for the 1960s generation 29.6 for the 1970s generation, 26.2 for the 1980s and 24.3 for the post 1990s. (Source: Global Times).

More than half (54.3%) of married couples were already acquainted before they developed a relationship, the report says. For the younger generations, the Internet has generally played an important role in getting to know each other.

The report also indicated that the traditional gender roles are still persistent in the majority of Chinese families; the men are breadwinners, while the women are homemakers.

The report’s results became trending topics on Sina Weibo under the hashtags of “China Average Marriage Age is 26” (#我国平均26岁结婚#) and “woman takes care of household, man in charge of earning money” (女方负责家务,男方负责挣钱).

Many Weibo netizens seem unhappy with the report’s results, seemingly feeling pressured into marrying by their parents and society (also read: “Pressured to get married: for the country and for society).

“I am 27 and still not married,” one netizen says with an unhappy emoticon. Another Weibo user responds: “Marriage is something big, it’s not a game. Age is not important at all. If you compare yourself to the average age of getting married, then also don’t forget to check the average age of getting divorced.” A user called Seven says: “This world does not have an age when you have to get married, just an age when people think you should get married.”

The All China’s Women Federation is a government body established by the Communist Party of China in 1949 to promote “women’s rights”. One user expresses their critique with the federation: “You don’t pay attention to such a grave problem as domestic violence, yet you do have the nerve to pressure us to marry. Such bullsh*t!”

“In my next life I want to be a man,” one female netizen writes: “Because as a woman, you cannot be too fat, you cannot be too skinny, you cannot be a money-grubber, neither a party girl. You have to cook and do the household, you have to be hard-working and gentle, you have to take care of the elders while paying attention to the small kids, you have to make money to support the household. As a man you just have to earn money. They say women are made of water, but I feel women are made of cement – that’s how strong they are.”

By Manya Koetse

©2015 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Food & Drinks

Chinese Woman with Heartbreak Passes Away after Drinking Bottle of Baijiu

Three friends are held partially responsible for not intervening when the woman consumed 500ml of baijiu.

Manya Koetse

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An incident that happened on the night of May 21, 2023, has become a trending topic on Chinese social media today after a local court examined the case.

A woman named ‘Xiao Qiu’ (alias), a resident of Jiangxi’s Nanchang, apparently attempted to drink her sorrows away after a heartbreaking breakup.

She spent the night at a friend’s house, where she drank about 50cl of baijiu (白酒), a popular Chinese spirit distilled from fermented sorghum that contains between 35% and 60% alcohol. One entire bottle of baijiu, such as Moutai, is usually 50cl.

She was together with three female friends. One of them also consumed baijiu, although not as much, and the two other friends did not drink at all.

As reported by Jiupai News, the intoxicated Xiao Qu ended up sleeping in her car, while one of her sober friends stayed with her. However, at about 5 AM, her friend discovered that Xiao Qiu was no longer breathing. Just about an hour later, she was declared dead at the local Emergency Center. The cause of death was ruled as cardiac and respiratory failure due to alcohol poisoning.

The court found that Xiao Qu’s friends were partly responsible for her death, citing their failure to prevent her excessive drinking and inadequate assistance following her baijiu binge drink session. Each friend was directed to contribute to the compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering incurred by Qiu’s family.

The friend who also consumed baijiu was assigned a 6% compensation responsibility, while the other two were assigned 3% each.

On Weibo, many commenters do not agree with the court’s decision, asserting that adult individuals should not be held accountable when a friend goes on a drinking spree. Some commenters wrote: “You can tell someone not to drink, but what if they don’t listen?” “Should we record ourselves telling friends not to drink too much from now on?”

This is not the first time for friends to be held liable for an alcohol-related death in China. In 2018, multiple stories went viral involving people who died after excessive drinking at social gatherings.

One case involved a 30-year-old Chinese man who was found dead in his hotel room bathtub in Yangzhou after a formal dinner with friends where he allegedly drank heavily. The man reportedly died of a heart attack. His friends reached a 1 million yuan (±US$157,000) settlement with his family, with the cost shared among the friends who were present during the night.

Surveillance cameras in Jinhua captured how the man was unable to stand or walk after drinking with his friends.

Another case involved a man who died when he was left by his friends at a hotel in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, after heavily drinking at a banquet. Surveillance cameras captured how the man was unable to stand or walk after drinking with his friends. Those friends also paid a compensation together of 610,000 yuan (US$96,000) to the man’s family.

Organisers of an alcohol drinking contest in Henan province were also ordered to pay a compensation of over US$70,000 after one participant died due to excessive alcohol intake in July of 2017.

These cases also triggered online discussions about how Chinese traditional drinking culture often encourages people at the table to drink as much as they can or to exceed their limits; the goal sometimes is to literally “take someone to the ground by drinking.” When someone proposes a toast, everyone at the table is required to finish their glasses, sometimes at a very high pace.

In light of the latest news, some commenters write on Weibo: “No matter what kind of drinking gathering it is, for someone who is already drunk, others should intervene to prevent them from continuing to drink. Even if they invite, provoke, or insist on drinking themselves, they should not be allowed to continue. Otherwise, it not only harms them, you might end up facing legal responsibility yourself.”

Others remind people that overindulging in alcohol when you’re in a state of distress is never a good idea, and that no heartbreak is worth getting drunk over: “There are plenty of other fish in the sea.”

By Manya Koetse

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©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Society

Empty Hall, Full Buzz: Civil Bureau’s Chinese Valentine’s Day Livestream Goes Viral Due to Couples Staying Away

The celebratory livestream gained immense traction on Chinese social media, albeit for all the unintended reasons.

Manya Koetse

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A local Bureau of Civil Affairs, where couples register and obtain their marriage certificate, launched a livestream to celebrate the marriage registration ceremony for new couples on August 22, marking the occasion of the Qixi Festival, often referred to as the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day.

The celebratory livestream gained immense traction on Chinese social media, albeit for all the unintended reasons.

The livestream was held by the Youxian District of Mianyang, a prefecture-level city in Sichuan with a population of 4.8 million. The Qixi Festival is typically regarded as an ideal moment for marriage registration, and people had expected a buzz around the event, with many couples lining up for the much-anticipated marriage boom (结婚潮).

However, as online viewers noticed no long queues and an empty ceremony stage, news of the awkward ‘no-show’ registration day quickly circulated across social media platforms. Some said that the livestream even momentarily shifted to show the city view instead of the empty hall.

Instead of showing the empty hall, the livestream sometimes turned off the live camera view and switched to show a generic city view.

Later in the day, certain media outlets reported that throughout the entire livestream duration, spanning from 10 in the morning until 3:45 in the afternoon, merely 12 couples had appeared to complete their marriage registration. This figure was probably derived from comments made by the thousands of online viewers, who detailed their viewing experiences. One viewer shared that they had watched the livestream for over an hour and only saw two couples coming to get their marriage certificate.

“I’ve been watching for ages and I’ve seen not a single couple obtain their marriage certificate,” one viewer wrote during the livestream.

When a couple finally did show up, the online viewers congratulated them, although some also thought they might have just popped up to make it look more crowded.

The failed ‘romantic’ livestream already attracted online attention on August 22. A day later, on the 23rd, it became the number one trending topic on China’s Douyin (TikTok) app.

Press photo by Mianyang Bureau of Civil Affairs.

The Mianyang Bureau of Civil Affairs, however, denied that their office had been completely empty. A total of 77 couples did show up to get registered on the 22nd, they stated (#民政局否认七夕直播领证仅12对#, #官方否认民政局直播领证仅12对登记#).

 

“Do you also dare to say how many people got divorced on this day?”

 

But many netizens doubt their claim, or think it is irrelevant as the empty hall and low number of marriage registrations is actually why the topic went trending in the first place: the image of the empty marriage stage symbolizes an era marked by historically low marriage rates. Some also comment that is is too coincidental for them to come up with ’77 couples’ for festival of Qixi (七夕), the ‘double seven festival’ which is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month on the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

Behind this seemingly trivial trending topic lies a larger narrative that reflects how Chinese youth are increasingly deferring marriagem while optimistic depictions of love and matrimony in the media fail to align with their own experiences.

Even if 77 couples did register for marriage at the office, many netizens think it is still a low number – especially considering the fact that China was still dealing with the pandemic during last year’s Qixi Festival.

“Do you also dare to say how many people got divorced on this day?” some wondered.

On Douyin, the number two trending topic, below the Mianyang one, was about the number of singles in China rising to 239 million. The number has come out in the China Population Census Yearbook (2020), which also said that the average age when people first get married is 28.67, 3.78 years older compared to 2010.

China’s declining marriage rates go hand in hand with lower birth rates while society is rapidly aging. Recently, a renowned professor of demography, Yuan Xin, made headlines for pointing out that China has become one of the countries with the lowest birth rates globally, projecting that China’s negative population growth will continue well into the 2070s (read more in our premium newsletter).

Despite the situation at hand, or actually because of it, Chinese state media are pushing romantic narratives about tying the knot and starting a family. Not only did many Chinese media outlets highlight the supposed ‘wedding boom’ during the Qixi Festival, some local authorities texted residents wishing them “sweet love, marriage and childbirth.”

But Mianyang’s well-intended celebration of Chinese Valentine’s Day failed to mask the reality behind the positive news reports, which is exactly why so many netizens think the livestream was so funny.

“Perhaps next time you should livestream the divorce office instead,” one commenter suggested: “It’ll probably be a lot more lively.”

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By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes

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Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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