Chinese girls like European men

Wedding market Shanghai: Offer girl, seek man


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The two older women put their heads together and whisper. "How much does he earn?" Asks one. "390,000 RMB a year," replies the other. "He's a manager at a foreign company." An appreciative look, the two swap their cell phone numbers, then the conversation is over.

If things go well for the two mothers, this encounter will result in a blind date. Then the daughter of one meets the son of the other. And then they get married, hopefully. The longed-for goal of parents and grandparents, who come by the hundreds to the wedding market in Shanghai every weekend to match up their children.

On this Saturday afternoon too, parents line the paths in People's Park in the center of Shanghai. Many sit behind an open umbrella as if they had set up a market stall. Others sit on benches or stand together in small groups. Everyone has a profile with them. So did Ms. Song, who had just shown interest in the well-paid son of her conversation partner. The note about her daughter says: "Female, from Shanghai, only child, born in March '86, height: 162 cm, gentle character, bachelor's degree from Shanghai University, member of the Communist Party, works for an American company, earns more than RMB 10,000 a month and comes from a wealthy family. " A photo is not included. Appearance plays a subordinate role at the Marriage Market. Age and height are more interesting. But what really matters is income and real estate ownership. If the parents find an offer promising, they give out their phone number.

There is a long tradition in China for parents to arrange the marriage of their children. In the past, unmarried men and women lived strictly separated from each other in Chinese society. They were not allowed to be seen together in public. The opportunities to make contact were correspondingly small. Nothing worked without the help of my parents.

The young people in Shanghai haven't had such problems for a long time. The first clubs based on the western model opened as early as the 1920s. Since then, according to sex researcher James Farrer, the metropolis has even been seen as a playground for adventurers and playboys. Young adults prefer to meet in karaoke bars or night clubs.

Big income and house

Even so, a little over ten years ago, parents brought about the renaissance of the marriage market - at a time when the Chinese economy was booming. The influences of the market economy can also be clearly felt on the marriage market: If you want to score points with your potential in-laws, you need a good income. Traditional Chinese weddings do not work for men without money, if only because the man has to look after the common home, including the trousseau. It is a real competitive advantage when the groom already has his own house. He also has to pay for the party, which is no small matter, because luxury weddings are very trendy in China - and an annual salary is quickly added on.

A second free market mechanism determines the marriage market: that of supply and demand. Anyone who has a daughter of marriageable age in China is guarding a rare commodity. After all, women of this age are in short supply - a result of the one-child policy that has been in place since 1979. This government program for birth control was supposed to stop the rapid population growth because it threatened to endanger the economic development and the given modernization goals.

Too few women

From then on, each couple was only allowed to have one child, nothing more. Violation could result in a fine, which could be high depending on income. However, this rigid requirement created a new problem: the fetuses of girls were aborted en masse. Ultimately, Chinese tradition ultimately called for a boy so that the family tree would not die. A firstborn girl was a catastrophe because she would get married at some point and leave her parents alone. Around 35 years later, the ratio is 117.7 boys to 100 girls; a value of 105 to 100 would be statistically normal.

In the meantime, the one-child policy has been relaxed. In the country, couples are allowed to have two children if the first is a girl. And anyone who grew up as an only child is also allowed to have two children. But even so, according to a forecast by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, there will be more than 24 million single men in China in 2020 - most of them from rural areas and with a rather low level of education.