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Family life in modern China

Posted by Author on August 23, 2006

Marijke van der Meer, Radio Netherlands, 22-08-2006–

The ancient Chinese sage Confucius once described the harmony between husband and wife and children as “the music of lutes and harps”. The influence of Confucius on Chinese family life – particularly his teachings on filial piety and on the relationship between stable family life and a stable state – is still felt today.

Since the days of Confucius, however, a great deal has changed, especially so following since the creation of the People’s Republic.

In 1950, the new communist rulers introduced a new marriage law; it was the first law enacted in communist China, even before the constitution. By outlawing age-old practices like concubinage, bigamy, the bartering of brides and dowry, the new rulers signalled a break with the feudal marital system and redefined the relation between family and state.

Family life in China has undergone equally radical changes in the post-Maoist era. The first single parent’s club in China was recently set up in Beijing, reproductive services have been made legal for single women, telephone advice lines for gays have been set up in Shanghai, and the Divorce Club of Shanghai was launched on Valentine’s Day this year.

With the introduction of market reforms, increased urbanization, a rising level of prosperity and education, and growing private responsibility, Chinese family life is increasingly reflecting trends in the West.

One-child policy

However, a unique aspect of family life in China is the country’s one-child policy, which has been enforced by the authorities since about 1978 and which restricts families in the cities to one child only. In the countryside, couples may try for a son if the first-born is a daughter, and exceptions are made for certain regions and minorities.

Nevertheless, the one-child policy has had a profound effect on the relationship between parents and children, the status of women, marital prospects, education, urban planning and even the design of cars. The first generation of children of the one-child policy have now reached adulthood and are developing their own unique new view of family life. (to be cont’d…)

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6 Responses to “Family life in modern China”

  1. maddo said

    what bongo said

  2. bongo said

    i am looking for a website that will help me with my school work, we need to find information on how chinese live!

  3. Jeff Hays said

    New website on China

    I have just created a new website on China called Facts and Details/ China ( ). I think it is the best and most comprehensive site on China out there. Please have a look. It is a little rough in spots but mostly ready. Comments, criticism, insights and ideas about spreading the word of my site are appreciated.

    Thank you
    Jeff Hays
    Facts and Details

  4. CATZ said


  5. sherry said

    i am looking for a web-site about everday life, a fly on the wall, in the home, work, drug use, child aburse, wife etc.


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