It was widely reported that during the 2010 marriage law seminar of China Law Society's annual meeting held in Haikou this week, legal experts will debate a law that punishes xiaosan ("little third," the other woman or man involved in an extramarital affair).
Whether this is true or not, this topic has stirred up debate across the nation.
According to an ongoing survey by, of 15,574 participants, 63 percent approve of a law to penalize xiaosan for breaking up families.
People are seriously concerned and are trying to find a way to maintain the sanctity of marriage.
While China is witnessing a transitional period, the state of marriage in China is in a state of shock.
Unlike Western marriages, in which mutual attraction and happiness are emphasized, Chinese traditional marriages are more like a social institution or family system.
It is utilitarian to some extent, and carries with it many responsibilities like carrying on the family line and maintaining social stability, as well as mutually benefiting the interests of both families involved in the union. It is usually not about two individual people, but about family and society.
In such a marriage, the individual is secondary to the family. The stability of marriage is regarded as a sign of one's social position and has to be maintained even there is no love or sex.
But today, along with China's rapid development comes a change of values and the consciousness of freedom and individuality. People are beginning to emphasize the pursuit of happiness and the quality of their marriage.
It is a good thing to have a choice, but without proper restrictions and control, it can also cause serious social problems.
As a result, in this transitional period, the kind of marriage that lacks love, passion and spiritual pursuit is inevitably facing the danger of being easily disintegrated due to several internal and external factors.
Actually, not just xiaosan are a danger to traditional relationships but the emergence of phenomena like one-night stands, extramarital affairs, and marriage-concealment all illustrate the crisis confronting Chinese traditional marriages.
The state of traditional Chinese marriage is fragile and naturally a part of society is worried, as demonstrated in the outcry for a new law.
But, people's idea about marriage is changing. The stability of a marriage is a moral problem that depends more on factors beyond traditional social functions and family interests.
It is unlikely that a law can fix the problem and prove effective in the long run.
Families need to find another way to fix the state of marriage.
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