Here is some biographic information about my Wife’s siblings, presented here primarily to offer more insights into what’s going on in China via snippets of their lives.

**My Wife’s Younger Brother**

Besides being hounded by everyone to hurry up and get married, my 29-year-old Brother-in-Law works in nearby Qingyang in a Provincial Typhoon Monitoring and Response Agency. In particular, if typhoons are headed toward Fujian Province or have struck, part of his job is to direct which resources (mostly military) are directed to which areas. I’m not clear on the particulars of how he does this, though he says his job is really just “to sit in front of a computer” waiting for something to happen.

He does have great IT skills, though, and so has become mostly responsible for his office’s Local Area Network setup as well.

Typhoons do strike around here, but only during a small part of the year.

This means he has some extra time on his hands at work, which he has used to start a small business selling clothing–we’ll call it factory overruns–on taobao.com, an eBay-like site where anyone in China with something to sell in small quantities seems to be heading.

The other interesting aspect of his job: employees gain access to and exit their work facility through fingerprint recognition. Gattica-like, they have to place their hand on a monitor which opens the door for them, but–more importantly, he confides–to monitor whether anyone is late to work or takes off before quitting time.

**My Wife’s Younger Sister**

My Wife’s Younger Sister and her Husband work for the Chinese Postal Service by day, but, being the gung-ho entrepreneurs that they are, also operate a small business on the side selling cellular phones and phone cards, which they do pretty well with. They originally started off running a private Internet cafe when broadband access came to Jinjiang a few years ago, with my Wife’s Younger Brother using his computer and IT skills to get it running, but when the government tightened the restrictions on running these, they decided to leave that business.

They currently live with his parents in an apartment in Qingyang, but in a couple years will be moving into a “villa” on the grounds of a large development complex going up in Qingyang.

It seems that her husband’s father invested in some land some years back for 200,000 RMB. Last year, the government came along and let him know that (1) his land was part of a larger plot that had been approved for this complex to go up, and (2) that he would be paid 800,000 RMB for it, “whether he liked it or not.” (This was, of course, actually a tremendous appreciation.)

They in turn decided to put this money back into property in the same complex, along with some other funds they’d all four saved, and so they’ll live in a large four-story “villa” in this modern complex _and_ own a storefront in a prime spot in the complex’s shopping district.

His parents hope that they can all leave their government jobs then, primarily so that as private business people, my Wife’s Younger Sister and her Husband can have another child. A son. Or two.

**My Wife’s Elder Sister**

My Wife’s Elder Sister, as I’ve mentioned before here, recently divorced. The fellow she was married to, my Mother-In-Law objected to him in the first place for reasons I’ll not get into, but the folks said that ultimately the choice was hers (the Elder Sister’s).

This fellow had a small factory that produced “parts” on contract for a shoe manufacturer, but as the shoe manufacturing processes matured, it became less and less necessary for the large factories to outsource these small parts, and his contracts dried up.

He worked hard for awhile trying to find a new niche, but grew frustrated, and eventually was spending all his time at bars and massage parlors. Finally, Elder Sister had enough and showed him the door.

And it was her door to show him, as she has a solid government job as a statistician at the local hospital, and the apartment was hers–purchased with a “government employee discount” when the building went up.

Her apartment is on the other side of town from the family home, and some relatives have begun suggesting to her that she move back to the family home, since my Mother-In-Law is now widowed, one daughter has moved to Qingyang and the other to Seattle, and the Younger Brother often stays in Qingyang for a few days at a time in a government dorm rather than commute back and forth every day, leaving Mother-In-Law here sometimes alone in a 3.5 story house. Plus, when he’s not in school, Elder Sister’s seven-year-old son stays here with my Mother-In-Law while she works, sometimes overnight.

She’s reticent to move back, though I can see pro’s and con’s on both sides of the issue. On the one side, family members might feel less lonely if they lived under the same roof instead of different homes across town. On the other hand, moving back home (though she would keep ownership of her apartment) might feel _too_ much like a step backward, and she’s always had a fierce independent streak.

Independent divorced working professional mothers.

I daresay this is the first generation in China that has seen much of this as a cultural phenomenon.

L to R, My Wife’s Elder Sister, My Wife, My Wife’s Younger Sister, My Wife’s Younger Brother