Feature

Divorce as a sign of success.

The week's news at a glance.

China

Zhong Wu
The Standard

Good news! The divorce rate is up, said Zhong Wu in the Hong Kong Standard. The conventional wisdom has always held that divorce is a tragedy, or at least an embarrassment. But we should see it as “a sign of progress” in personal freedom. Just a few years ago, unhappily married couples had to get the approval of both spouses’ work supervisors before they could split up. It was one more layer of bureaucracy and potential corruption, a needless interference in a private matter. Since the abolition of that requirement, divorce rates in many cities have doubled. Traditionalists shouldn’t worry. China’s family structure weathered two earlier divorce spikes. The first was during the 1950s, when the Communist Party abolished arranged marriages and more than a million leapt at the chance to shed a despised spouse. The second was during the Cultural Revolution, when officials who had been denounced as “capitalists” and “traitors” divorced to spare their wives or husbands from humiliation. This time, though, the increase in divorce is simply a result of Chinese people exercising a new personal liberty. We should celebrate it. “To choose your mate—or get rid of one—is a basic human right.”

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