‘Just be quick! They won’t find out!’
She sneaked into the study room and opened the last drawer under the desk when nobody was at home. Suddenly the door was opened. She turned around and saw her mother’s pale face.
‘Amy! You’re going to steal the Household Register, aren’t you?’ Her mother yelled, ‘You’re not allowed to marry him! Never!’
Amy was speechless. She was indeed trying to steal the Household Register, a required family identification to register for marriage. Her mother does not approve the marriage because her boyfriend couldn’t afford a house in Beijing. They broke up after a week.
Amy is not the only one who is struggled with the failed attempting marriage. Getting married in China is harder than people usually think because Chinese marriage is influenced by various elements that might surprise you. This is not only a social issue but also a cultural reflection.
The Cultural Reason
Interview with Amy
Amy agreed that a man should buy a house for marriage in China. The ability to provide a house is a socially acceptable rule for Chinese male. According to a survey in 2012 by Horizon Research & Consultancy group, 75% of potential brides take the ability to afford a house into consideration.
It is not only the requirement from the potential bride, but also from the bride’s parents. Renting a house is not acceptable to most Chinese parents. In the traditional Chinese culture, a house has been seen as a guarantee to show the man’s ability to afford the good living condition for his wife.
Moreover, Chinese parents have the huge rights to express opinions in their children’s marriage. Although some modern young female do not require a house, young male still need to get permission and bless from the parents.
The One-Child Policy also has a huge impact on failed attempting marriage because it results in the abortion based on sex selection that prefers male.
By 2030, projections suggest that more than 25% of Chinese men will never have married. Too many single man will also result in some social changes such as homosexuality.
The failed attempting marriage is related to the high property price. The chart below is a translated version of the property price in suburb Beijing. The price of each square meter is over 130,000 Yuan (26,000 AUD). It will take approximately 2.5 million AUD to buy a three-bedroom apartment, which is too high to afford.
Jerry Zhang, the loan consultant of Concept Finance, works for applying loans for property buyers in Sydney. He compared the income and property costs between Australia and China, based on his over 20 years experience of living in China before immigrated to Australia.
‘A two-bedroom apartment in a second-tier city in China will probably cost $400,000 while the average annual income is about $20,000 for people aged 25 to 30. You need to work for 20 years to buy a house. However in Sydney, a two-bedroom apartment in Kogarah is about $800,000 while the annual income is about $80,000. You just have to save money for about 10 years. There are also lots of great policies in Australia such as First Home Owners Grant. The property right in China is only 70 years but in Australia is permanent.’
Except for costs element, Jerry also mentioned that Westerns don’t ask for a house as an essential condition of marriage.
However, Jerry believes that high property price only exists in the first-tier and second-tier cities in China and the average house price in small cities is still affordable.
‘The marriage pressure in small towns is much lower than in big cities. The social rule is also changing because more and more people have realised that a house is not the essential condition for marriage. There are many people get naked marriage as far as I know.’
What Jerry mentioned is a new marriage concept without purchasing a car, a house and hosting a wedding party.
In the traditional marriage, a ceremonious wedding party represents the family’s strong economic conditions and high social status.
However, increasingly young people pay more attention on pure love. The materialism in the contemporary society has been gradually weakened.
The New Property Polity
As the perception changed gradually, the property policy has also been improved. A new property policy was announced in March 2016 in Shanghai.
According to the policy, local families with one property will have to pay 70% down payment if the new house is either above 140 square meters or priced above 4.5 million Yuan (900,000 AUD).
The new policy will regulate the second-home buyers who buy the house for appreciation so that the property price will remain steady or even decreased.
The new policy may change both the marriage issue and economy development in China. It is a trial implementation in Shanghai. If it is effective in controlling the property price, the policy will be applied in other cities.
Getting married in China is harder than you think. It is necessary for the government to apply new policies. There is still a long way to go to accept new social rules for both younger generation and their parents.
Posted by Shuang Liu (440514914)