One of Sina BBS's "HOT" threads last week: "People's Congress Delegate Advocates Repealing Concept of Illegal Cohabitation, Do You Support?" It was posted by "eastinred," who kicks things off with a long response titled, "This People's Congress delegate's proposal puts the incidental in front of the fundamental," some of which I translate below. Eastinred reads a bit like a hired Internet commentator trying to influence public opinion.
The main post notes that a People's Congress delegate, lawyer Han Deyun, recently pointed out that unmarried cohabitation only became seen as illegal in 1989 and is not actually against the Marriage Law. Since that time, according to Han, people have seen the practice as both immoral and illegal. Eastinred then responds to this news with a long, reasoned, essay. Selected excerpts:
"eastinred": As seen by the common people (note, I'm not talking about legal experts), cohabitation can be divided in the following ways: 1. Both parties are single; 2. One party is single, one party is married; 3. Both parties are married, but are not each other's spouse; 4. Other kinds of unusual situations....Situations 2 and 3 are clearly going against our current law, and are already deemed illegal by the current marriage law because this kind of behavior is harmful to society...My personal opinion is that situations 2 and 3 must be defined as illegal cohabitation! What's more, it should be cracked down on by the law!...As for situation 1, two single parties, we must focus on whether it's voluntary. If one party is being forced it appears to be illegal behavior. Mostly it is men who force women, and here we must continue to fight against this kind of behavior.
Now I will discuss two single parties who are living together voluntarily. In this situation there is basically no harm to society, in fact it could play a stabilizing role...Some people are even just about to go through the marriage procedures...I think that the People's Congress delegate was probably talking about these kinds of people when he said we should not label them [as illegal]. But our marriage law also protects common-law marriage, that is to say, although the couple may not have a marriage certificate they are still protected by law in many circumstances. This kind of situation used to be very common in the countryside, and has to do with tradition and educational level, and one thing about this kind of situation is that people surrounding the couple all see the couple as husband and wife, without any suspicion.
Because society is changing too quickly, the intensity of work (mostly the intensity of intellectual labor) is increasing daily for city people, especially in large cities, and there's a huge volume of information. Marriage becomes a question of choice (people can't make up their minds), dread increases (the fear of failure); add in the increasing mobility of the population and some pessimists adopt a kind of "having it once is better than never having it at all" 曾经拥有、别无所求 attitude. The two parties don't care about the past and have no specific plans for the future (actually this is a kind of distrust in society), which naturally means an increase in casual husbands and wives. There's something we feel sympathy towards in these kinds of people. At present we should increase safeguards and later lead them in the right direction. Increasing social safeguards will decrease the numbers of this group and this kind of precarious lifestyle, so that living a true married life will be more than just a dream for them.
Some of the over 200 comments had more to say:
My personal opinion? This kind of delegate is useless.