Probes into counterfeit marriage papers conclude
Investigations into separate incidents involving counterfeit marriage certificates in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have concluded, and the findings are expected to be released to the public as soon as Friday, a Xinjiang civil affairs department official said on Thursday.
“The two investigation teams we sent to Korla city and Manas county have returned, and results of the investigations will be disclosed later,” said Zhang Yang, deputy director of the publicity office with the autonomous region’s civil affairs department.
The local government issued a public apology on its website on Monday. Ren Siqiang, former director of Korla Civil Affairs Bureau and current director of the city’s health bureau, and Li Zhilong, head of the bureau’s social affairs office, were dismissed from their posts on Tuesday.
The bureau’s current director, Mahmut Lahman, received a warning, and deputy director Zhang Xinli was suspended.
The scandal became public on Sunday, when China Central Television reported that a couple in Korla that had registered for marriage at a local civil affairs bureau in 2009 only recently learned that their marriage certificates were counterfeit when they tried to use them while trying to buy a house.
An official of the city’s civil affairs bureau then admitted that the bureau issued more than 3,000 pairs of fake marriage certificates from October 2008 to October 2009.
Each newlywed couple must pay 18 yuan ($3) to the local civil affairs department to get their marriage certificates, which are printed on a special type of paper.
The official said that because of a shortage of government funds five years ago, the bureau asked a local printer to make the certificates with poor-quality paper for lower prices.
A similar situation to Korla’s took place in Manas, a county 135 km from Urumqi, the autonomous region’s capital.
Gao Wushan, who registered for marriage in Manas with his wife in 2006, was told his certificates were fake when he applied for Urumqi residency in late November.
“The residency officers of Urumqi said my certificates were fake, and I was stunned,” said the 33-year-old.
Li Mingfa, director of the civil affairs bureau of Manas, said officials discovered instances of fake marriage certificates in 2008 that were issued in 2006, and they have tried to contact the couples to exchange those certificates for genuine ones.
Gao received his genuine certificates on Tuesday night. Li personally delivered the certificates to Gao’s house.
“We have replaced the certificates for those who got in touch with us, but there still are some who cannot be reached,” Li said.
Wang Dong, a Korla resident who registered for marriage in August 2009, said he never thought his marriage certificates were fake until people around him began talking about the incident. “Who can imagine such an important certificate could be counterfeit?” the 37-year-old said.
“Although it didn’t bring me much trouble, being in line for almost half an hour to get my marriage certificates replaced was still a waste of time,” he said. “The incident should not have happened.” Contact the writers at gaobo@ chinadaily.com.cn and firstname.lastname@example.org