Meet China’s ‘Divorce Village’

'This regime is driving people insane.'
By Juliet Song
Juliet Song
Juliet Song
May 29, 2016 Updated: May 29, 2016

On May 19, the 79-year-old Mr. Yuan, along with his two sons, of southwest China, filed their applications for divorce with the local authorities. There is, however, some solace in this humiliation: almost everyone in the village is also getting divorced, and they’re doing it in a collective last-ditch attempt to get fair compensation for the imminent demolition of their community.

The rationale for divorces hinges on the fact that compensation is given to households, not individuals. By splitting their families, the villagers hope to leverage more cash out of the compulsory deal.

On May 19, Mr. Dan and Ms. Dan, a couple in their 80s, obtained their divorce certificate. (via Visual China)
On May 19, Mr. Dan and Ms. Dan, a couple in their 80s, obtained their divorce certificate. (via Visual China)

While it is not known how much the residents are to be compensated for having their homes unceremoniously torn down and being evicted, villagers are incensed.

“It’s not fair,” an elderly female resident of Daocao’ao told Chuncheng News. ” and we haven’t received any notice at all until now.”

Located in rural Yunnan Province, the village of Daocao’ao, home to some 1,300 people, has been slated to be torn down to make way for the construction of an industrial park, the Chuncheng Evening News reported May 20. Notices were printed and distributed starting may 13, warning residents that the demolitions would be complete in 45 days’ time.

Demolition notice posted on a wall in Daocao'ao village. (via Visual China)
Demolition notice posted on a wall in Daocao’ao village. (via Visual China)

“We think the compensation based on number of household registrations is unfair. We would not have any disagreement if it was based on the size of the house,” said a villager surnamed Fu, “or if the calculations were based on the number of people, which sounds the most fair.”

But even divorce may not be able to get the villagers the compensation they’re looking for: the demolition notice provided a disclaimer prohibiting the division of households within the announced timeframe. But the residents of Dacao’ao are willing to give it a try.

“We know that there is no policy of forbidding household division at higher levels of authority (Kunming City, the municipality where Dacao’ao is located), this is just local policy,” said a villager who was not named by the media.

“Even some couples in the process of getting real divorces cannot divide their households,” the villager said. “The only thing we can do now is to persist.”

Juliet Song
Juliet Song