Probes into coun­ter­feit mar­riage pa­pers con­clude

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By GAO BO in Urumqi, Xinjiang and ZHAO XINYING in Bei­jing

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@ chi­ and zhaoxiny­ing@chi­

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