Cross-Border Brides: Vietnamese Wives, Chinese Husbands in a Border-Area Fishing Village

Nguyễn Thị Phương Châm, Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences
Communal house singing festival procession in Wanwei, 2011. Photograph taken by the author.
Download Article (588.29 KB)
Abstract

This article traces the lives of a group of Vietnamese women driven by poverty and loss of marriageability to cross the border into China to marry men from the fishing village of Wanwei. Wanwei’s location, only 25 kilometers from the border with Vietnam, enables these women to make fairly regular trips back to their native villages to visit their birth families. Yet, despite the fact that they now live in a designated Jing (ethnic Vietnamese) village, where a significant proportion of the population shares their ethnicity, their illegal residential status and recent arrival excludes them from the community of villagers who claim descent from Vietnamese immigrants in the sixteenth century. Despite the hardships these women face as a result of continuing poverty, lack of emotional intimacy in their marriages, and marginal social status, few see themselves as victims of human trafficking. Instead, most take pride in their agency and achievements.

Keywords: marriage, Vietnamese wives, Chinese husbands, transnational marriage, Wanwei