‘Fake divorce’ phenomenon lands in court

Hukou laws, social trust, and the merits of a PKU doctorate under debate in latest controversy

The Chinese phenomenon of “fake divorce” is back in the news once again. One of the top-trending stories of the weekend, attracting nearly 30 million views on Weibo, was a particularly shameful case—reminiscent of Feng Xiaogang’s 2016 flick I Am Not Madame Bovaryinvolving a Baotou-based “model worker,” academic, and Peking University graduate called Fang and his former wife, known only as Zhan.

The pair married on May 19, 2013 (ironically, the date being a homophone for “I want this to last”) and split in November 2016, ostensibly to secure a Beijing hukou for their new-born son. According to Fang’s plan, this supposedly “fake divorce”—a common strategy to evade regulations regarding residency status and property ownership—would then be annulled when the couple duly remarried, while their son would inherit Fang’s Beijing hukou and gain access to the capital’s supposedly superior education, social, and health services.

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Han Rubo is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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