Earlier this month, police were called to a local bar in Hangzhou, China after bar workers found a suspicious package left behind in the premises. On opening the package, police found a figure of 2 million Yuan, around $418,000 dollars, a figure enough to buy a house in Hangzhou.
Managing to track down the owner, the man was called into the station and according to local police had arranged to meet his ex-girlfriend in the bar. The suitcase filled with money was a “break-up” fee, an emerging trend in China in the past few decades.
Not much is known about the man and his girlfriend, except that they were both in their 20’s and he worked in I.T. Having broken up, the woman had demanded a fee and they arranged to meet to make the payment. However, things took a turn for the worse, when the woman found out how much was in the briefcase, claiming this not to be enough to cover her heartbreak.
She got up and left in disgust soon after, not realising that her former partner had already left, leaving the suitcase unattended. On being contacted by the police, both parties came to the station to collect the suitcase. The police warned him not to be so careless in future with such a large sum of money to which he reportedly asked, “Is 2 million yuan a big sum?”.
The new trend, which isn’t widespread but growing, is said to come on the back of the huge economic growth in the past two decades. In 2016, China had the highest number of new billionaires, sitting at 90% worldwide. With this cash and historic inequality in Chinese culture, “break-up fees” have become more popular.
There have been numerous cases which have made it into the media spotlight with an infamous story involving a couple who both had a husband and wife. When they broke up, the woman refused to pay a break-up fee, which the man disagreed with and attacked her family with acid.
While the fees are usually paid for by men, it has been known for women to pay the fee, as the man will usually pay for meals and gifts throughout the relationship.