That’s right, with a few convenient, cold-hearted taps of the finger, past-their-best couples can now use WeChat to begin their very own “conscious uncoupling,” in a process akin to ordering food or hailing a Didi.
Noted tech commentator Matthew Brennan Tweeted about the feature on Tuesday and included screenshots of the divorce registration sub-menu.
"It's from a mini-program that Tencent announced a week or so ago for public services in Guangdong province," Brennan describes to the Beijinger. "Lots of media reported on it, no one actually looked that much into it though I guess. I always check and use these things. So they all missed the most important and funny thing."
No word yet on whether Beijing authorities will offer similar mobile options for its public services. That being said, the mobile function would surely attract more than a few users, seeing as the capital has China's highest divorce rates according to state media reports (clocking in at 39 percent, just above Shanghai's 38 percent, Shenzhen at 36.25 percent, and Guangdong's city of Guangzhou which came in fourth at 35 percent).
Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reported this past fall that divorce rates nationwide have doubled between 2006 and 2016, before adding: "The number of couples who actually divorced last year rose 8.3 percent from 2015 to 4.2 million, the ministry said. And according to its most recent figures, the trend looks set to continue, with 1.9 million couples getting divorced in the first six months of this year, a rise of 10.3 percent from the same period of 2016."
Indeed, such statistics and trends leave many insiders unsurprised that this new mobile function has been developed, especially in increasingly tech-savvy China.
"In the same way as popular culture has expanded enormously as new technologies of communication have become available, this divorce filing affordance would indicate that there is, or even has been, an unfulfilled demand for such a service," John Sinclair, a professor at the University of Melbourne's School of Culture and Communication who has researched and written about new media in China and other locales, tells the Beijinger.
"And if there is such demand," Sinclair adds, "Then that suggests social changes are underway, in the form of more pressures on marriage, and a realization that options are available – on the mobile phone, even – for people in unhappy marriages."