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An exploration of adultery through three eras of Chinese government
Although Imperial Chinese lawmakers set up strict rules when it came to governing the sexual behavior of all Chinese women, the laws proved to be particularly strict in enforcing the sexual purity of married women. If a married woman partook in illicit sex on her own free will she faced the possibility of harsh punishments if her husband chose to press charges. If a woman suffered a sexual assault against her will then she had to live with the suspicion of consenting to illicit sex unless she could otherwise prove that it happened against her will. Additionally, a widow who chose to obtain a new sexual partner could be accused of adultery by the dead husband’s family just as though the husband had been alive. For a woman, once she married Chinese law and society expected her to remain faithful to her husband dead or alive.
A widow who committed adultery risked more than a simple beating with a rod, but also risked losing her house and home. In order for a widow to remain chaste she needed wealth. With this assumption in mind, Chinese Imperial law provided that as long as a widow remained chaste she became the head of an independent household. If she did not have enough land or wealth to support herself then she would have to remarry and would then lose her dead husband’s land. If while claiming to be chaste, a widow’s in-laws found a way of proving that she had an affair then they could claim that she was an adulteress and have her removed from her husband’s land and receive the land for themselves. This system set up a scenario in which the widow had plenty of motivation for remaining chaste, while the widow’s in-laws had just as much motivation to prove that she was un-chaste.
This Qing era system, in which an adulterous widow risked losing everything, brought to light cases in which the widows took drastic measures in order to prevent news of their affair from spreading. In one case, for example, a widow by the name of Mrs. Lui née Yang committed adultery with a man by the name of Ma T’ung-kuei. Later Lui convinced Ma to kill her father-in-law presumably so that they would not be caught in their affair. Upon discovering this crime the magistrate requested, and was granted by the throne, permission to have Ma killed on the spot. The magistrate believed that murder resulting from illicit sex constituted a worse crime than simple murder. Apparently Lui and Ma were willing to risk immediate death in order to prevent open knowledge of their affair.
While a widow’s in-laws could take away her home if she committed adultery, the living husband had a variety of options when it came to punishing unfaithful wives. For example, Imperial law sanctioned that a man may be rid of his wife if she has been convicted of adultery. The evidence is not very clear due to the loss of records, but historians believe that if a wife committed adultery once then the law permitted the husband to return her to her natal lineage. If, however, the wife committed adultery more than once then she “may be sold in marriage by her husband.” In actual fact, a man had the legal right to sell his unfaithful wife.
The ability to sell an adulterous wife greatly favored the man, but had limited benefit for the wife. The law served two purposes for the betrayed husband. First, it allowed him to recoup some of the money that would have otherwise been lost due to the bride-price that he had originally paid for his unfaithful wife. Second, the law gave the man the chance to start fresh and hopefully find a more loyal wife. For the wife, although the term “sold in marriage” implies that she gained the opportunity to start afresh in a new marriage just like her ex-husband, this was not always the case. The husband did of course have the opportunity to sell his wife into a new marriage, but often the husband simply sold the wife into slavery. Imperial Chinese law, then, recognized an adulterous wife as little more than a commodity that could be traded or sold away just like any other defective or unwanted object.
While selling an adulterous wife into slavery may sound like a harsh punishment, in the scope of the legal options open to a husband who found his wife cheating in Imperial China, the selling of the wife appears to have been quite lenient. A man who found his wife in the act of having sex with another man had legal permission to kill his wife and her lover on the spot. The legal code determined that this type of action constituted “righteous anger.” The fear that the unfaithful wife could potentially pollute the husband’s household lineage involved such an insult to her husband’s patriarch and produced such a crime to her husband’s ancestors that immediate death became an acceptable consequence. Oddly enough, this type of murder incorporated one of the very few scenarios in which anyone, other that the emperor himself, could legally take a life.
Further Chinese social pressure, with respect to neighbors and community, made the life of an adulteress appear particularly difficult. Chinese Imperial laws, for instance, prescribed a specific punishment of three years penal servitude for a man who, by having an adulterous relationship with a woman, caused her to commit suicide out of shame. The fact that this law exists insinuates that Chinese women who committed adultery during the Imperial era felt such shame that suicide presented a plausible way out. Other laws proved that authorities held woman that had an adulterous relationship responsible if one of her family members committed suicide because of her actions. In one example a woman by the name of Mrs. Ch’en née Chang had an affair with a man by the name of Wang Chieh. After Mrs. Ch’en’s father found out that Mrs. Ch’en had been unfaithful to her husband Ch’en’s father tried unsuccessfully to kill Wang. Upon his failure to kill Wang, Ch’en’s father committed suicide out of shame. The authorities then sentenced Ch’en to death by strangulation after the assizes. In this case, although Ch’en did not actually go out and kill her father, or even help to plan his death, the fact that he die as a result of her moral ineptitude elevated her crime to the level of a murderer.
While the laws of imperial China placed much emphasis on the sexual purity of woman, one should not assume that the men had free reign to control the sex of their wives and explore their own sexual desires outside of marriage. Imperial law in China assigned certain roles that both a wife and a husband played with respect to one another. Each spouse’s role, more than simply an aspect of law, grew from deeply rooted cultural standards that reached back to the time before the Manchu swept south to take the imperial throne. Though the wife played the role of the subordinate, one should not assume that the husband could do whatever he wished with her. The wife had to live with her husband and did not have the liberty to have sex outside of her marriage on her own free will. The husband, though, had to support his wife and did not have the liberty to force his wife to have sex outside the marriage. Furthermore, the husband could not divorce or kill his wife without just cause. In other words, while the law and social customs of China are, without a doubt, male-centric, the husband still had a responsibility to his wife.
While Imperial authorities did not hold a man responsible to his wife for having sex outside of his marriage, the authorities did hold the man responsible to society and women’s Patriarchs to protect the chastity and sexual purity of women. If a man caused a woman to commit adultery against her husband than he himself became an adulterer. If, for example, an official bought a married woman as his concubine then the law held him liable to receive 80 blows with a heavy bamboo rod and to be reduced three levels in official rank. The idea that an official would have sex with a married woman made lawmakers nervous because the officials needed to lead by example. His actions then made officials appear unrespectable and therefore needing of punishment and not fit to lead.
In one specific case one sees that not only did the law look down upon a man who committed adultery, but Imperial society did as well. In 1810 a man named Wu Ta-wen had been having an illicit relationship with the wife of a man by the name of Ch’a Ch’uan-kuei. Wu’s son Wu Yen-hua, though, did not keep quiet about the relationship and as a result Wu’s landlord kicked Wu out of his house. When Wu found another house to live in he again started his affair with Ch’a’s wife. Once again Wu’s son refused to keep quiet about his father’s un-honorable actions. This time, instead of letting his son spread his secret, Wu lured his son to a secluded spot, grabbed him by his queue, and slit his throat. Normally, a father could get away with killing his son with little punishment; however, in this case since the authorities found Wu’s need to kill his son in order to protect his own adulterous relationship extremely cruel, they punished him to the extent of the law. The Hupei Provincial court sentenced Wu to penal servitude under a statute against parents that intestinally kill their own son. Here one funds that Wu’s adulterous relationship not only caused him to be kicked out of at least one house, but also drove him to kill his son. The fact that Wu found it necessary to commit murder in order to keep his affair quiet leads to the conclusion that Wu risked certain trouble if his neighbors or the authorities found out that he slept with a married woman. Had Wu only been convicted of having an adulterous affair with another man’s wife then the punishment would have been a mere 90 blows with heavy bamboo. Wu’s willingness to risk the higher level of punishment that he received signifies that societal factors also played a role in his desire to keep his affair a secret.
Aside from Imperial lawmakers not allowing a man to commit adultery by sleeping with a married woman, they also prohibited men from condoning adultery by allowing or forcing their wives to commit adultery. One of the ways in which a man forced his wife to commit adultery involved him selling his wife into another marriage without just cause, or by hiring his wife out as a prostitute. Apparently by 1818 men of little means often sold their wives even though the law prohibited such actions. The men gained two-fold for such action. First of all they obtained money in order to support themselves. Second, they got rid of a wife that they obviously could not afford to support.
There are several cases that show that the authorities held the husband of an adulterous wife responsible if he knew what had taken place. For example, in the previously mentioned case of Wu Ta-wen who killed his son, another important fact is that Ch’a Ch’uan-kuei had condoned his wife’s adulterous affair. When the authorities found out about Ch’a allowance in letting his wife commit adultery they sentenced him to life exile even though the authorities did not particularly blame Ch’a for the death of Wu’s soon. Out of all the parties involved in this case, authorities sentenced Ch’a to the worst punishment.
While Qing law held both woman and men accountable for illicit sex, the law held only the woman accountable to her spouse. In this sense the woman had no agency to stop her husband form having an affair. Instead she had to rely on other male members of her family to try and convince the man to stop his illicit sex, or hope that the patriarch of the husband’s sexual partner took the initiative to report the cheating husband to the authorities. In that sense the laws as set up in the Imperial era China proved to be unfair to women. In order to help make the laws more fair late Qing and Republican era reformists took the initiative to change the laws. A conscious effort took place to equalize the sexes under the Chinese legal code. The egalitarian focus not only gave the woman agency to enforce her own rights with respect to her husband, but also eventually defined the husband’s responsibility to his wife as equal to the wife’s responsibility to the husband. By 1935 a husband who cheated on his wife could now be considered an adulterer and be held accountable for his actions to his wife under law.
Late Qing officials made a conscious, but unsuccessful, effort to equalize the sexes under law. By 1903 the Gauangxu emperor put forth an edict that called for a special Law Bureau to be set up within the Ministry of Law whose sole purpose was to set up a “practical and fair” legal code that “would be well received by both China and the West.” Although the Law Bureau claimed to have wanted to westernize its laws, the fact that it still had to fit within Chinese cultural norms severally limited the Law Bureau’s ability to drastically change the laws with respect to adultery. Essentially the Law Bureau failed to affect any real level of social change. Changing laws in of themselves does not guarantee social change. Even when Hong Kong fell under the legal rule of Briton, for example, the native people still practiced their customary marriage practice regardless of what British law stipulated. Qing official undoubtedly ran into the same problem. Furthermore, under the new laws, statutes still recognized that any married woman that had sex outside of her marriage was an adulteress, while a man, once again, could only be labeled as an adulterer if he had sex with a married woman other than his wife. Moreover, a husband, along with any man within the married woman’s first degree of mourning could still legally accuse a married woman of adultery.
In a true step toward westernization, however, lawmakers replaced the old style of corporal punishment, such as beatings with bamboo, with fines. Furthermore, unmarried woman, along with men that slept with unmarried women, did not face the same legal punishments that they faced in the earlier Qing legal code. The last point, though, brought up a lot of contention between the lawmakers. Many of the traditionalists believed that the new legal code still needed to protect the purity and chastity of women. They claimed that virtuous “mothers insured virtuous descendants. Civilizing begins in the women’s quarter. Everyone in the jia benefits from female chastity.” Much of what made China a virtuous society to traditionalists focused on the chastity of women. Nevertheless, by the end of the Qing Empire unmarried women, if in nothing more than legal theory, could no longer be punished if they chose to sleep around. The law still held married women responsible to their families with respect to adultery while the man held no sexual responsibility to his family. In this sense, the only thing that the late Qing reformists managed to do was to give men more liberty to cheat on their wives.
Not until the Republican era did lawmakers truly work to set up an egalitarian system with respect to women and adultery under the Chinese legal code. The changes, however, did not affect immediate social change. Though the Guomindang managed to change the codified laws, the Supreme Court often ruled in favor of classic Chinese beliefs. With this in mind, not only did women have to step forward to publically fight for equality in society, but they also had to fight in order to hold their husbands sexually accountable to them. Eventually, however, by 1935 the law considered Chinese men that cheated on their wives as adulteress. Finally, through a long process of legal and social change, women could hold their husbands sexually accountable as male adultery became a crime against the man’s wife just as it had always been a crime against the woman’s husband when the woman cheated on her husband.
Early Republican law took immediate steps to bring about equality among the sexes with respect to marriage and family. Article 972, for example ordered that an “agreement to marry shall be made by the male and the female parties of their own accord.” This revolutionary law stipulated that a man could no longer forcefully sell his wife into another marriage for if a woman did not want to marry a particular man, then she no longer had to. Furthermore, section 7 of Article 976 states that either the male or female may call off an engagement if “having made the agreement to marry, the party has sexual intercourse with a third person.” This revolutionary law gave the woman, as well as the man a way out of an engagement if the future spouse proved to be unfaithful. Moreover, Article 1052 stipulated that either “spouse may apply to the Court for a divorce provided that” one of a variety of conditions existed. Of the conditions that qualified either spouse to file for a divorce one could be granted a divorce if their “spouse had committed bigamy,” or had “sexual intercourse with another person.” Prequalifying Article 1052, however, Article 1053 claimed that with respect to filing for a divorce because of either adultery or bigamy, “the party who has the right of action may not apply for a divorce, where he previously consented to the act or has since condoned it or has had cognizance of it for over six months, or where two years have elapsed after the occurrence of the act.” These two acts empower and protect the women on two levels. First of all, the wording of the laws demonstrates that both sexes had the power to file for a divorce in the occurrence of adultery. This meant that on a civil level the wife could now hold the husband sexually accountable to her. Second, if a man forced his wife into adultery, or knew about the adultery, as was often the case in Qing China, he legally could not file a divorce. In this way the Republican law also held the husband civilly accountable for how he treated his wife.
While the Republican lawmakers made a conscious effort to equalize the sexes, the republican Supreme Court often made decisions that reaffirmed the primacy of men. For example, on November 11th 1915 a case came before the court in which a man, upon finding out that his bigamous wife had committed adultery filed “a complaint for an offence against morality.” When officials discovered that the woman that had committed adultery was in fact the man’s second wife, they asked the court if a man that had obviously been immoral himself had the option to file a complaint against morality. The court responded that the man did have the right because the woman, even as a second wife, should have remained faithful to her husband. Through this case one finds that it did not matter to the court that the man had obviously been unfaithful to both his wives. The Supreme Court did not hold the man sexually liable to his family, only the wife.
In another case occurring on May 4th 1916 the court had to choose whether to permit a divorce. The question that arouse was whether a man should be allowed to divorce a woman who had obviously been compelled to commit adultery by the husband’s parents. To further complicate the matter the husband had had previous knowledge of both the actions of his parents and his wife. The court claimed, however, that where “the husband’s parents compel their son’s wife to commit adultery with any other person and the husband has had previous knowledge thereof without preventing it, it may be considered as a situation by which the ties of wedlock have been broken and naturally they shall be allowed to divorce…” This case could be interpreted in two different ways. In one way one could assume that the woman filed for divorce against her husband. If this be the case then the court ruled in the wife’s favor and upheld the notion of equality between the sexes. The other way that the case could be interpreted, though, leads one to believe that there remained little equality between the sexes. If the husband, in fact, filed for divorce against his wife then it would appear that the wife got the bad side of both deals. First the husband’s parents forced her into an adulterous relationship with the husband’s knowledge, then the Supreme Court allowed the husband to get rid of her. Although the court did not allow the man to sell his wife away as he might of done in Qing China, she still had to return to her natal family as an obviously unchaste woman.
As the need for further enforcement of sexual equality became overwhelming obvious to modern minded Chinese women and lawmakers, they began to push for reform to the Chinese law. During the Republican era Chinese woman began to strive for modernization. One of the ways in obtaining this modernization was to fight for equality under Chinese law. Women had to make a conscious and public effort to force lawmakers to further codify equality in the criminal law that had been slipping back to Qing standards of in equality. In 1928, for instance, the Republican lawmakers once reaffirmed that it was criminal offence for married woman to commit adultery. The man, however, still had freedom to cheat on his wife as long as he did not do it with another man’s wife. Women and legal reformers pointed out that the 1928 code worked against the Republic’s stated effort for equality among the sexes. Finally in 1934 reformers, working under the scrutiny of mobilized women realized that the adultery law had to be changed.
In 1935 Chinese officials finally wrote the law so that a married man could be criminally charged with adultery if he cheated on his wife. Article 239 of the Chinese legal code stated that “Whoever, being married, commits adultery with any person, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than one year. The other party to such adultery shall be liable to the same punishment.” This one law signified that men became sexually accountable to their wives at the risk of criminal punishment. The criminal code essentially stated that society could now treat a man the same way that it had been treating women. Where before 1935 the law only held men civilly accountable to their wives, after 1935 the law held men criminally accountable to their wives. The lawmakers, being pushed by reformist elements of society, by taking this criminalizing step, forced old fashioned elements of society to change its views on men’s sexual freedoms. While the Republicans had been preaching sexual equality for years, it was not until 1935 that the sexual inequalities reaching back to before Qing finally came to an end.
The egalitarian reform that swept through China in 1935 carried over to Post 1949 China. Although the Communist criminal codes with respect to marriage and family do not specifically state that adultery is illegal, they do insinuate that it is illegal. For example, Article 181 of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) legal code states that a “person who cohabitates with or knowingly marries a spouse of a member of the armed forces on active duty shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment for not more than three years.” The law noticeably does not use any gender specific language. On that note one could presume that if a man whose wife was serving active duty in the military cohabited with another woman then that man would be held criminally liable for his actions. Furthermore, Article 48 of the PRC legal code states that all women “in the People's Republic of China enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life, in political, economic, cultural, social and family life.” This law then makes clear that in as far as the law states, the authorities held the man accountable for anything that they held the woman accountable for. So, if a married woman could not legally sleep with a man other than her husband, then neither could a married man sleep with a woman other than his wife. Moreover, even though the legal code does not appear to specifically mention adultery, various forms of legal documents that have made their way outside of the PRC have insinuate that officials view adultery as a crime. Lastly, the official PRC stance on family planning includes the concept that sexual “relations are to be regulated and confined within the bounds of marriage.” All of the facts combined lead to the conclusion that the man in the Post 1949 era had a responsibility to his own family to remain sexually faithful to his wife.
As the legal experts and social scientists began to preach about the dangers of extramarital love after the horrible case of Yang Yuxia and her attack with acid, what proved to be most remarkable is that the person causing the problem by having an affair was the husband. Within this crime, Chinese society confirmed that men have a social and familial responsibility to remain sexually faithful to their wives. Through nearly one century of legal reforms with respect to illicit sex and adultery, Chinese society no longer stipulated that the woman owed sexual exclusivity to her husband while the husband owed no such thing to her. Now thanks to the overall efforts of three Chinese governments, both men and women can hold each other sexually accountable. A wife needs to remain faithful to her husband and a husband needs to remain faithful to his wife.
All -China Women's Federation. Compilation of Laws Relating to Women and Children . April 2002. http://www.women.org.cn/english/english/laws/01.htm (accessed October 13, 2007).
Bodde, Derk, and Clarence Morris. Law in Imperial China: Exemplified by 190 Ch'ing Dynasty Cases. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967.
Chiu, Hungdah. "Criminal Punishment in Mainland China: A Study of Some Yunnan Province Documents." The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 68, no. 3 (September 1977): 374-398.
Comparative Criminal Law Project. The Criminal Code of the People's Republic of China. The American Series of Foreign Penal Code, 1982.
Edwards, Louise. "Policing the Modern Woman in Republican China ." Modern China 26, no. 2 (April 2000): 115-147.
Farrer, James, and Sun Zhongxin. "Extramarital Love in Shanghai." The China Journal, no. 50 (July 2003): 1-36.
Fraser, Stewart E. "Family Planning and Sex Education: The Chinese Approach." 13, no. 1 (March 1977): 15-28.
Greenfield, D. E. "Marriage by Chinese Law and Custom in Hongkong." The International and Comparative Law Quarterly 7, no. 3 (July 1958): 437-451.
Hsia, Ching-Lin, James L. E. Chow, and Yukon Chang. The Civil Code of the Republic of China. Hong Kong: Kelly & Walsh, Limited, 1930.
Huang, Philip C. C. "Women's Choices under the Law: Marriage, Divorce, and Illicit Sex in the Qing and the Republic." Modern China 27, no. 1 (January 2001): 3-58.
Levi, Werner. "The Family in Modern Chinese Law." The Far Eastern Quarterly 3, no. 4 (May 1945): 263-273.
Ruskola, Teemu. "Law, Sexual Morality, and Gender Equality in Qing and Communist China." The Yale Law Journal 103, no. 8 (1994): 2531-2565.
Sommer, Matthew H. Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.
The Legal Department of the Shanghai Municipal Council. The Chinese Criminal Code and Special Criminal and Administrative Laws. Shanghai: The Commercial Press, Limited, 1935.
Tran, Lisa. "Sex and Equality in Republican China: The Debate over the Adultery Law." Modern China: An International Quarterly of History and Social Science, forthcoming.
VALK, M. H. van der. Sinica Indonesiana: Interpretation of The Supreme Court at Peking, Years 1915 and 1916. New York: University of Indonesia.
Yeung, Alison Sau-Chu. "Fornication in the Late Qing Legal Reforms: Moral Teachings and Legal Principles." Modern China 29, no. 3 (July 2003): 297-328.
Farrer, James, and Sun Zhongxin. "Extramarital Love in Shanghai." The China Journal, no. 50 (July 2003): 1-36.
 Ruskola, Teemu. "Law, Sexual Morality, and Gender Equality in Qing and Communist China." The Yale Law Journal 103, no. 8 (1994): 2531-2565, 2533.
 Ruskola, Teemu. "Law, Sexual Morality, and Gender Equality in Qing and Communist China." The Yale Law Journal 103, no. 8 (1994): 2531-2565, 2543.
 Yeung, Alison Sau-Chu. "Fornication in the Late Qing Legal Reforms: Moral Teachings and Legal Principles." Modern China 29, no. 3 (July 2003): 297-328.
 Huang, Philip C. C. "Women's Choices under the Law: Marriage, Divorce, and Illicit Sex in the Qing and the Republic." Modern China 27, no. 1 (January 2001): 3-58, 48.
 Sommer, Matthew H. Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000, 191.
 Bodde, Derk, and Clarence Morris. Law in Imperial China: Exemplified by 190 Ch'ing Dynasty Cases. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967., 322.
 Sommer, Matthew H. Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000, 62.
 Ibid., 63.
 Sommer, Matthew H. Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000, 42.
 Bodde, Derk, and Clarence Morris. Law in Imperial China: Exemplified by 190 Ch'ing Dynasty Cases. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967, 233.
 Bodde, Derk, and Clarence Morris. Law in Imperial China: Exemplified by 190 Ch'ing Dynasty Cases. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967, 360.
 Huang, Philip C. C. "Women's Choices under the Law: Marriage, Divorce, and Illicit Sex in the Qing and the Republic." Modern China 27, no. 1 (January 2001): 3-58, 14.
 Bodde, Derk, and Clarence Morris. Law in Imperial China: Exemplified by 190 Ch'ing Dynasty Cases. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967, 169.
 Bodde, Derk, and Clarence Morris. Law in Imperial China: Exemplified by 190 Ch'ing Dynasty Cases. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967, 317.
 Ibid., 434.
 Huang, Philip C. C. "Women's Choices under the Law: Marriage, Divorce, and Illicit Sex in the Qing and the Republic." Modern China 27, no. 1 (January 2001): 3-58, 7.
 Bodde, Derk, and Clarence Morris. Law in Imperial China: Exemplified by 190 Ch'ing Dynasty Cases. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967, 196.
 Yeung, Alison Sau-Chu. "Fornication in the Late Qing Legal Reforms: Moral Teachings and Legal Principles." Modern China 29, no. 3 (July 2003): 297-328, 299.
 Levi, Werner. "The Family in Modern Chinese Law." The Far Eastern Quarterly 3, no. 4 (May 1945): 263-273, 263.
 Greenfield, D. E. "Marriage by Chinese Law and Custom in Hongkong." The International and Comparative Law Quarterly 7, no. 3 (July 1958): 437-451.
 Yeung, Alison Sau-Chu. "Fornication in the Late Qing Legal Reforms: Moral Teachings and Legal Principles." Modern China 29, no. 3 (July 2003): 297-328, 301.
 Edwards, Louise. "Policing the Modern Woman in Republican China ." Modern China 26, no. 2 (April 2000): 115-147, 126.
 Hsia, Ching-Lin, James L. E. Chow, and Yukon Chang. The Civil Code of the Republic of China. Hong Kong: Kelly & Walsh, Limited, 1930, 5.
 Ibid., 6.
 Ibid., 23.
 Ibid., 24.
 VALK, M. H. van der. Sinica Indonesiana: Interpretation of The Supreme Court at Peking, Years 1915 and 1916. New York: University of Indonesia, 174.
 Although adultery was not yet a criminal offence for men, it was still not morally acceptable for a man to have two wives.
 VALK, M. H. van der. Sinica Indonesiana: Interpretation of The Supreme Court at Peking, Years 1915 and 1916. New York: University of Indonesia, 233.
 Edwards, Louise. "Policing the Modern Woman in Republican China ." Modern China 26, no. 2 (April 2000): 115-147.
 Tran, Lisa. "Sex and Equality in Republican China: The Debate over the Adultery Law." Modern China: An International Quarterly of History and Social Science, forthcoming.
 The Legal Department of the Shanghai Municipal Council. The Chinese Criminal Code and Special Criminal and Administrative Laws. Shanghai: The Commercial Press, Limited, 1935, 86.
 Comparative Criminal Law Project. The Criminal Code of the People's Republic of China. The American Series of Foreign Penal Code, 1982, 71.
 All -China Women's Federation. Compilation of Laws Relating to Women and Children . April 2002. http://www.women.org.cn/english/english/laws/01.htm (accessed October 13, 2007).
 Chiu, Hungdah. "Criminal Punishment in Mainland China: A Study of Some Yunnan Province Documents." The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 68, no. 3 (September 1977): 374-398, 376.
 Fraser, Stewart E. "Family Planning and Sex Education: The Chinese Approach." 13, no. 1 (March 1977): 15-28, 15.