Only two decades ago in China, cohabitation was regarded as a corrupt and decadent Western lifestyle, and the adjective "illegal" accompanied any mention of it.
It couldn't be more different now: Only about 3 percent polled are opposed to couples living together with a vast majority taking a very lenient attitude.
The one-year national survey was conducted by the BeijingNormalUniversity's psychology department, which interviewed more than 2 million people around the country.
A report on love and marriage in Chinese society was compiled based on the survey, whose results were released on Tuesday.
About 51 percent of the interviewees said that they accept cohabitation and would be in such a relationship if given a chance; while 46 percent said they are not opposed to the concept but would not do so themselves.
The survey also showed growing tolerance of partners' sexual experience and previous love affairs.
About 32 percent said partners' sexual experience would never bother them when starting a relationship; and more than 61 percent of the interviewees said that they didn't care how many times their partners had fallen in love before.
Other findings of the survey:
Men think 25 is the right age for women to marry; and that their chances of finding a husband declines year by year after that.
On the other hand, women think men around 31 are at the best age to marry, and 15 percent consider those at 40 attractive.
"When we talk about sex, we can see that China has been impacted more by Western mores than other developing countries," said Yu Hai, sociology professor at FudanUniversity in Shanghai.
In fact, the Middle Kingdom was historically open-minded about sex, although this freedom only applied to men, he added.
That freedom basically ended after 1949 - when New China was founded - and those who committed adultery could be sent to labor camps.
But after the country started its reform and opening-up drive, sex is no longer a legal issue and even moral restrictions have become loose, he noted.
(China Daily 09/06/2007 page 1)
1. Two decades ago, how was cohabitation regarded in China?
2. What does the latest survey show about people’s attitudes towards cohabitation?
3. What happened to couples who committed adultery when the New China was founded after 1949?
1. Cohabitation was regarded as a corrupt and decadent Western lifestyle, and the adjective "illegal" accompanied any mention of it.
2. The survey showed growing tolerance of partners' sexual experience and previous love affairs.
3. Those who committed adultery could be sent to labor camps.
（英语点津 Linda 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Bernice Chan is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bernice has written for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and most recently worked as a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producing current affairs shows and documentaries.