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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Chinese wife fights for own money
A Chinese couple in their 80s who only communicate via terse notes are embroiled in a courtroom battle over control of their household finances.

Despite being married for more than 50 years, the couple's relationship has never been good and they have not spoken to each other for several years.

Now Mrs Yang is demanding her husband give her an allowance so she can enjoy greater independence from him.

He said that if he does that, she will have to pay half the bills.

Mrs Yang told the court the couple were married in 1954 after falling in love, but she soon realised her husband had ''too many faults'', the Beijing News reported.

They did not get divorced because at that time it was socially unacceptable, and even now, divorce is a taboo among the older generation.

'No toothpaste'

Her husband, Mr Tao, said things got particularly bad in 1989, a time when the couple would start arguing after just a few words with each other.

Over the last few years a full-scale "cold war" has broken out between the couple and now they only communicate using notes, he said.

Although they continue to live in the same Beijing home, they live separate lives - even dividing up the groceries and cooking their own meals.

Mrs Yang, 80, has never worked and so has no income of her own.

She told the court that if she wants something she leaves her husband a note saying such things as "no toothpaste", which he then buys.

Mrs Yang, who arrived at court separately from her husband, is demanding he give her a 450 yuan ($59) monthly allowance out of his 1,000 ($130) pension.

The court, in Beijing's Chaoyang District, is due to make a ruling next week.

Country profile: China
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