[JURIST] The Chinese government paper China Daily [media website] Wednesday reported that the number of Chinese couples seeking a divorce in 2004 rose to 1.6 million, a dramatic increase over previous years attributed to a 2003 law reform that dropped the requirement that would-be divorcees obtain the permission of their employer. The paper quoted a Chinese official who said many of the couples had probably wanted a divorce for some time but were too embarrased or unable to obtain one under the old rules. Employers were known to 'strongly encourage' couples to stay together. Irreconcilable differences were cited as the leading reason listed for divorce, though domestic violence due to "mounting social and work pressure" was up sharply. China Daily has local coverage.