Ex­ter­mi­nat­ing in­fi­delity, like a spy

An in­creas­ingly num­ber of rich peo­ple in China are turn­ing to a very unique, al­beit con­tro­ver­sial, ser­vice in or­der to save their mar­riages

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By LI XUEQING in Shang­hai

lix­ue­qing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

In­di­vid­u­als who do not wish to di­vorce their cheat­ing spouses now have an­other means to re­solve the prob­lem at hand — a clan­des­tine op­er­a­tion un­der­taken by pro­fes­sion­als to “ex­ter­mi­nate” the third party. But con­trary to what the term im­plies, there is no vi­o­lence in­volved.

Th­ese op­er­a­tives are ac­tu­ally mar­riage coun­selors who re­sort to a va­ri­ety of ways to en­gage the third party and con­vince them to back out of the af­fair. They charge about 200,000 yuan ($31,500) or more for a suc­cess­ful case, and 90 per­cent of their clients are rich wives mostly aged be­tween 35 and 55. Male clients form the re­main­ing 10 per­cent.

China’s di­vorce rate has be­ing on the rise for 12 con­sec­u­tive years since 2003. There were 3,637,000 di­vorces cases last year, up 3.9 per­cent from 2013, ac­cord­ing to statis­tics by the Min­istry of Civil Af­fairs in 2014. Ex­tra mar­i­tal af­fairs are one of the rea­sons be­hind those bro­ken mar­riages.

One such “ex­ter­mi­na­tor” is Ming Li, who works for the Weiqing Group, an agency that pro­vides mar­riage coun­sel­ing ser­vices in over 40 Chi­nese ci­ties. Ming said that the high fees are jus­ti­fi­able be­cause it could take sev­eral months to a year’s work be­fore the third party vol­un­tar­ily ex­its the af­fair. While there is no of­fi­cial data on ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fairs in China, Ming claimed that they ac­count for 85 to 90 per­cent of her mar­riage coun­sel­ing cases.

Ac­cord­ing to Ming, who has 15 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in mar­riage coun­sel­ing, ex­ter­mi­na­tors usu­ally at­tempt to gain the trust of their sub­jects un­der the dis­guise of a com­pas­sion­ate out­sider.

“It’s just like be­ing a spy,” said the 46-year-old who is based in Shang­hai.

For one of her cases, Ming went to great lengths to move into the apart­ment be­low her tar­get. She then de­lib­er­ately spilled wa­ter in her own bath­room be­fore con­fronting the woman, claim­ing that there was a wa­ter leak­age from above. The two ladies soon be­came ac­quain­tances as a re­sult of that in­ci­dent, and Ming even reg­u­larly of­fered to buy things from the su­per­mar­ket for her new “friend”, in­clud­ing treat­ing the lat­ter to ex­pen­sive salmon. The break­through came when the woman con­fided in Ming about her on­go­ing af­fair.

Premium prod­ucts like salmon hardly ranks as the most ex­pen­sive in­vest­ments th­ese ex­ter­mi­na­tors have to make. At times, they re­sort to even costlier gifts such as jew­elry and de­signer hand­bags, said Shu Xin, Ming’s col­league.

Ac­cord­ing to Shu, one ex­ter­mi­na­tor had even got­ten the third party woman a job back in her home­town and pre­paid the com­pany her wages for one year.

Other meth­ods in­clude help­ing the third party find a more suit­able part­ner, dis­clos­ing the lit­tle-known se­crets of their mar­ried lovers, and in­volv­ing their fam­ily and friends in the per­sua­sion process.

Many peo­ple may not have

Ming Li, heard of af­fair ex­ter­mi­na­tors but the pro­fes­sion is not new. In fact, Ming said that such dis­creet ser­vices have been around since she started her ca­reer in mar­riage coun­sel­ing 15 years ago. In the past, most of the wives who were cheated on sim­ply de­manded for a di­vorce with­out con­sid­er­ing the ram­i­fi­ca­tions. While th­ese days they are more in­clined to main­tain a com­plete fam­ily for their chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to Ming.

“Ninety-eight per­cent of them don’t want the di­vorce even when their hus­bands prom­ise to pro­vide for them fi­nan­cially af­ter the split. This is be­cause they think their chances of get­ting re­mar­ried, un­like their hus­bands, are very slim,” said Ming. “How­ever, com­pared with their male coun­ter­parts, cheat­ing wives are more de­ter­mined to file for di­vorce and give up money for love.”

A small num­ber of Ming’s clients in­clude the very in­di­vid­u­als she is sup­posed to per­suade too. Ming re­luc­tantly ad­mit­ted that she sym­pa­thizes with them at times.

“Some are cheated into the re­la­tion­ship. Some are con­fused. They know their chances of mar­ry­ing the peo­ple they are see­ing are very slim. They also dare not tell their friends or fam­ily about their sit­u­a­tion. Some mis­tresses even panic when some­one knocks on their doors, think­ing that peo­ple have come to beat them up,” Ming said.

Ming pointed out that sin­cer­ity, tol­er­ance and elo­quence are key to be­com­ing a suc­cess­ful af­fair ex­ter­mi­na­tor, in ad­di­tion to be­ing able to “think in the third party’s shoes”.

The job re­quires at least five years of ex­pe­ri­ence in mar­riage coun­sel­ing and per­sonal mar­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence. This is to en­sure that ex­ter­mi­na­tors can truly un­der­stand the case at hand. As such, most of them are aged 35 and over. The ma­jor­ity of ex­ter­mi­na­tors are women.

Shu re­vealed that his agency plans to train 1,000 ex­ter­mi­na­tors within three years de­spite the high costs in­volved — train­ing a per­son to be­come an ef­fec­tive af­fair ex­ter­mi­na­tor re­quires at least six months and an in­vest­ment of more than 300,000 yuan. He added that most of the ex­ter­mi­na­tors hired to­day were at some point in time a mar­riage coun­selor, a psy­chi­a­trist or a di­vorce lawyer.

This un­usual busi­ness has also aroused the in­ter­est of in­vestors, some of whom had showed up at a sum­mit on af­fair ex­ter­mi­na­tion ser­vices in Shang­hai on Oct 10, re­ported thep­a­per.cn. The sum­mit aimed to pro­vide such ser­vices with proper ac­cred­i­ta­tion and en­force reg­u­la­tion.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the sum­mit, China Mar­i­tal Fam­ily Work As­so­ci­a­tion, laid down the rules in­clud­ing com­pli­ance laws and pro­tec­tion of pri­vacy for af­fair ex­ter­mi­na­tors dur­ing the event, and a hot­line has also been opened for cus­tomers to re­port mis­con­ducts by the ex­ter­mi­na­tors.

The industry has al­ready stirred con­tro­versy on the In­ter­net. While some peo­ple think it’s a bright busi­ness idea, oth­ers con­sider it use­less as it does noth­ing to pre­vent the cheat­ing from re­oc­cur­ing.

Chen Yaya, a re­searcher on gen­der equal­ity at Shang­hai Academy of So­cial Sciences, ex­pressed con­cern that such an industry may give peo­ple the im­pres­sion that they can make a for­tune by in­ter­fer­ing in other peo­ple’s mar­riages. How­ever, she was sup­port­ive of such a ser­vice.

“The aim of per­suad­ing the third par­ties to back off helps de­fend mar­riages, which aligns with our main­stream val­ues. There is no harm in find­ing a so­lu­tion in a civ­i­lized way,” said Chen.

“How­ever, those who can pay for the ser­vice are only a very small frac­tion of the pop­u­la­tion. As long as the busi­ness does not break the law while fully con­sid­er­ing and pro­tect­ing the in­ter­ests of all sides, it’s okay with me.”

Jia Mingjun, a di­vorce lawyer in Shang­hai, warned that this prac­tice may in­vade the pri­vacy of the par­ties in­volved if their af­fairs or other life de­tails are dis­closed with­out their con­sent, though he also thinks the af­fair ex­ter­mi­na­tion busi­ness is a pos­i­tive thing to have.

Hav­ing been a di­vorce lawyer for 13 years, Jia said that though di­vorce rates have risen in tan­dem with the rapid de­vel­op­ment of the econ­omy, peo­ple’s emo­tional needs and fam­ily dis­putes have gen­er­ally re­mained the same. Also, he be­lieves af­fairs are not nec­es­sar­ily the main cause of a di­vorce, but just one of the pos­si­ble out­comes.

“A cou­ple may have other prob­lems first, such as ma­jor dis­agree­ments with his or her part­ner, or dis­putes with the in­laws. The pos­si­bil­ity of in­fi­delity in­creases as a re­sult,” he said.

Some are cheated into the re­la­tion­ship. Some are con­fused. They know their chances of mar­ry­ing the peo­ple they are see­ing are very slim …Some mis­tresses even panic when some­one knocks on their doors, think­ing that peo­ple have come to beat them up.”

who works for the Weiqing Group, an agency that pro­vides mar­riage coun­sel­ing ser­vices

LU PING / CHINA DAILY

Mar­riage coun­selors say that women th­ese days would hes­i­tate about divorc­ing their hus­bands as they’d much rather of­fer their chil­dren a com­plete fam­ily.

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