Entering Splitsville_China

Entering Splitsville_China -...

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http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-divorce8may08,0,46400.story? coll=la-home-headlines From the Los Angeles Times COLUMN ONE Entering Splitsville, China The villagers thought divorce was their loophole to a better life. Officials said not so fast, which is what some exes said about reuniting. By Ching-Ching Ni Times Staff Writer May 8, 2006 RENHE, China — 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 divorce. 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. In a country where the government has seized farm after farm to feed a building boom, the villagers figured that if they were going to lose the land that had supported them for generations, they should at least try to get a better deal. "Basically, it's the government that forced us into this mess," said Yu Changle, a 70-year- old grandfather whose three children are also divorced. "They are not paying us enough to leave the land behind." 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 1
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they could live in one apartment and make a little extra income from selling or renting out the extra one. So, whereas farmers elsewhere took to the streets with their picks and plows demanding
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