Mine is mine, yours is mine
Updated: 2013-03-03 07:19
By Tiffany Tan (China Daily)
A recent service innovation by a well-known bank in China has many men up in arms, giving vent to a simmering frustration. Tiffany Tan reports.
Half a year before they got married, Yang Jinghuai handed over his bank card to girlfriend Zhao Li. They had just moved in together, and Yang, like many Chinese, believed men were the primary breadwinners, while their women took care of home and the family finances.
China Merchants Bank's "capital accumulation" service, targeted at couples, is pro-wives but "cruel to husbands", according to laments from male bloggers on Sina Weibo. Jing Wei / for China Daily
"I believe this card is for the family," says Yang, 35, a native of Guizhou province who works for a foreign multinational corporation in Beijing. "I don't care whose hands the card is in, as long as money used is for the family."
Would he be interested in signing up for a bank service that will automatically transfer a chunk of his monthly income to his wife's account?
"Definitely not interested," he says without missing a beat, emphasizing that there shouldn't be a division between his and his wife's money.
Other Chinese men were also not enthusiastic when, in January, China Merchants Bank started offering a "capital accumulation" service targeted at couples. Described as a "time- and energy-efficient" way to save money, it's set up so that any funds that exceed a designated amount in the husband's account will go right into his wife's account.
"This will reduce all married men to tears. It's way too cruel," one netizen complained on Sina Weibo, China's top micro-blogging site, where the bank's advertisement had drawn fire with tens of thousands of comments.
Another person saw humor in the situation.
"From now on, when a man proposes marriage, he will say, 'My dear, will you marry me? I will set up a capital accumulation service for you.' To a woman, this will be the most touching and irresistible marriage proposal ever."
Then there were the more violent reactions: "The one who invented this service should die in apology."
China Merchants Bank, based in Shenzhen, is one of China's top financial institutions.
In a country where even unmarried men readily surrender access to their bank accounts to partners, why is there such vitriolic opposition from the men? How is an automatic money transfer that much different from giving her the same amount in cash every month?
It turns out that although giving a woman access to her husband's financial resources has become the norm in China, deep inside some men are unhappy with having to do so.
"They think, 'Why do I have to unconditionally give my wife what I earn? I've worked so hard for it while she hasn't done anything,'" says Qu Yang, a psychotherapist and marriage counselor at Beijing National Olympic Psychological Hospital.
A survey conducted last year by Baihe.com, one of China's leading match-making websites, found that 53.2 percent of female respondents expected husbands to hand over their salaries to their wives, while 28.2 percent of the men said this was unacceptable.
Chinese men have largely maintained this practice, Qu says, because "women often associate it with love".
A refusal to hand over his "money bag" is seen as a sign of disloyalty, says Chen Xiaomin, a sociology professor in Shanghai and director of the Chinese Research Society on Marriage and Family.
This brings us to the bottom line. Some women believe that a grip on her man's money is a grip on his faithfulness.