Marriage in China, as you may have heard, is about more than just love. It’s a transaction that requires multiple rounds of negotiations between families. In fact, the insanely high cost of a marriage — which includes a wedding ceremony, a honeymoon trip, rings for him and her, hiring a photographer, a car, a house, furnishings, etc. — has been deterring young Chinese couples from getting married in recent years.
To address the problem, the city of Taiyuan in Shanxi Province became the first city in China last year to offer cash subsidies to newlyweds. In a recent ceremony, the local government reported on its achievements, while announcing that the program would be extended province-wide in 2018, reports The Paper.
The incentive program is operated by Marriage Consumption Subsidy Foundation under the China Association of Social Worker. Established in June 2017, the foundation is the first nonprofit in China designed to benefit newlyweds (defined as married for one year or less), with a mission to promote the healthy development of marriage and family.
Beneficiaries of this program can receive a 3-yuan (about 50 cents) cash reward for every gram of gold purchased (for wedding rings), 500 yuan ($79) for each car bought, and a 5 percent discount on other services, such as wedding photography. The subsidies also cover the cost of wedding venues, honeymoon trips, house decoration and appliances, etc.
According to the head of the fund’s office in Taiyuan, as the pilot city of the program,
Taiyuan, as the pilot city, has already formed “a full service system that includes public welfare support, industry regulation, and participation by enterprises,” said the head of the fund’s Taiyuan office. More than 1,000 couples in the city have benefited so far, and it is estimated that the total amount of subsidies will reach 98 million yuan in 2018, when the program is introduced to every Shanxi city.
Online reception to this seemingly well-intentioned program has not been all positive. On Weibo, many internet users interpreted the subsidies as another desperate attempt from the central government to encourage Chinese couples to form families and give birth. Some raised questions about how the foundation is financed. “As a taxpayer, I don’t approve of my money being used on these subsidies. I want my money to be used on people who are in more urgent need,” one commenter wrote.