Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty
Dating in China sounds ever-more depressing, with stories about “leftover women” and lonely male “bare branches” becoming all too common-place.The sad demographics that create these stories are undeniable — thanks in part to China’s one child policy, China may soon be looking at 12 to 15 per cent of its male population being unable to ever find a wife.
For obvious reasons, that isn’t good for any society. In one horrifying example, entrepreneurial Chinese criminals have begun grave robbing to help arrange “ghost marriages” for men who die single.
There are some marginally more sensible options for single Chinese people, however.
A fantastic new article in today’s New York Times from Brook Larmer takes a look at two very different types of Chinese matchmakers who are helping those struggling to come to terms with dating and relationships in China’s changing society.
One of these people is 28-year-old Yang Jing, “one of China’s premier love hunters,” who can earn a bonus of more than $30,000 if she finds a suitable match for her wealthy clients. That’s a lot of money in China (five times the average annual salary), but its a lot of work, and requires Yang go to some extreme lengths.
Larmer describes one of Yang’s newest jobs — finding a wife for a divorced 42-year-old property mogul willing to spend half a million on the hunt.
Mr. Big, as I’ll call him — he insisted that [matchmaking service] Diamond Love not reveal his name — is a member of China’s fuyidai, the “first-generation rich” who have leapt from poverty to extreme wealth in a single bound, often jettisoning their first wives in the process. Diamond Love’s clientele also includes many fuerdai, or “second-generation-rich,” men and women in their 20s and 30s whose search is often bankrolled by wealthy parents keen on exerting control over their marital choices as well as the family inheritance.
But fuyidai like Mr. Big are accustomed to being the boss and can be the most uncompromising clients.
Mr. Big had an excruciatingly specific requirement for his second wife. The ideal woman, he said, would look like a younger replica of Zhou Tao, a famous Chinese television host: slim with pure white skin, slightly pointed chin, perfect teeth, double eyelids and long silken hair. To ensure her good character and fortune, he insisted that her wuguan — a feng shui-like reading of the sense organs on the face — show perfect harmony.
Yang does eventually find a potential match for Mr. Big, but only after he rejects 3,000 women and goes on an awkward, 3-person date at a Sichuanese restaurant.
Others aren’t so lucky. Larmer also profiles Yu Jia, another matchmaker who simply sits in a Beijing park, advertising her 36-year-old son for marriage with a hand-drawn sign (and no photo).
She isn’t successful.
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