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Marriage, Divorce, I Love You?

November 8, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Marriage is the foundation of a Chinese family. As the Chinese saying goes: a harmonious family prospers everything (家和万事兴). It used to be the norm that once people marry, they should never divorce – they should try everything possible to maintain the marriage and make the family “harmonious.” However, as the Chinese society evolves rapidly in recent decades, the divorce rate in China has increased about 10-fold from 1979-2019. To cope with that, China passed a law in 2020 to mandate a 30-day “cooling off” period before formalizing a divorce. The divorce rate dropped drastically after the law went into effect, but it sparked anger especially among women and deterred young people from getting married. What has been causing the rising demand to untie the knot in China? Do marriage and family still hold the foundational value for Chinese nowadays? How would the change of the law affect men and women differently? Join us in the conversation with two experts in this field and tell us what you think at China Institute.

Coming of Age in China Now is a series that focuses on the dynamic aspects of the life and society in contemporary China. Each program will feature a topic that opens up an opportunity to learn about the complexity of life in China that connects its great transformation over the past decades to a world that is deeply interrelated. As the newer generations are coming of age and becoming the backbone of the Chinese society, what are the challenges they face today? Do marriage and family still hold the foundational value for them? Is LGBT considered a western concept and what is it like to be an LGBT member given China’s tradition and changing views on family values? How does China cope with its aging population? We will explore those intriguing topics with you as we are bringing back our in-person programs at China Institute.

All visitors must bring a photo ID when entering the building and present proof of COVID vaccination. Masks are highly recommended when on site at China Institute.

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Ethan Michelson is currently Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures at Indiana University Bloomington and Academic Director of the IU China Gateway. His research on Chinese lawyers, social conflict in rural China, and gender injustice in China’s civil litigation system has been published as articles in a variety of disciplinary and area studies journals. His new book, Decoupling: Gender Injustice in China’s Divorce Courts was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022.

Over the past 25 years Professor Michelson has lived and conducted research in China on and off for almost eight years. He has studied at and been affiliated with Xiamen University, Nanjing University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Renmin University of China, and has traveled to or done field work in 16 provinces.

Roseann Lake is a former Beijing correspondent and author of the bestselling book, Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower (published in Chinese as 单身时代). Her work and reporting has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The Guardian and The Atlantic, among others. Roseann has spoken about the social and economic gains made by trailblazing young Chinese women at universities, conferences and for private institutions across the US, the UK and China. She currently covers Cuba for The Economist.


November 8, 2022
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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China Institute
40 Rector Street, 2 Floor
New York, NY 10006 United States
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