Entering Splitsville, China – Ching-Ching Ni

From the Los Angeles Times (link):

Farmer Yan Shihai was happily married for more than 30 years. Then late last year, seemingly out of the blue, the 57-year-old grandfather and his loving wife got a . Within months, all three of his adult children and their spouses also split up. So did almost every other married person in Yan’s village of 4,000 – an astounding 98% of Renhe’s married couples officially parted, according to the local government.

It was as if a spell had been cast over this once-quiet rural community in the Chinese heartland. Everybody suddenly seemed to have fallen out of love. The oldest among them were in their 90s and barely able to move. The youngest had just tied the knot. Some had babies.

But instead of tension or tears, the couples waiting in line at the local registry to end their marriages were practically jolly. They believed they were taking advantage of a legal loophole that allowed them to get an extra apartment.

As they understood the compensation deal, each married couple would receive a small two-bedroom apartment in return for their land and farmhouse. Those divorced would get a one-bedroom apartment each. The villagers figured that would be a better deal, that they could live in one apartment and make a little extra income from selling or renting out the extra one.

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