Our buying office in China not only brings us closer to Chinese factories but it also enables us to tell you some stories about Chinese culture and Shanghai living. China is an amazing country and daily life is certainly eye opening for our overseas staff and clients who work from our offices. Here is one aspect of life we want to share with you – how some Chinese parents try to find love for their child.
The scene is set at People’s square park in Shanghai every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. It is a little bit like stumbling upon a giant speed dating game, where parents are there on a mission, with or without their children’s consent. They try to arrange meetings, set up coffee dates or other ideal conditions for a whirlwind romance, to find potential matches for their unmarried children.
Most of the time their children are too busy working to devote time to meeting their ideal soul mate so they accept their parents’ help. But it’s not that easy even for a parent and many also employ matchmakers. These usually charge RMB 10-20 (1.5-3USD) per pairing.
Walking through the park you can observe the walls which are lined with posts that seem to read as notices of missing persons, advertising physical descriptions or issuing a photograph. Posts never fail to mention the possession of a house or a car or, ideally, both.
The practice is somewhat similar in spirit to dating websites. Indeed the explicit focus is on basic compatibilities such as height, education, and assets. This is also interesting to see the “especially recommended section” of the “overseas board.” Parents who are in China with children overseas will try to find other parents with children also overseas to set them up together.
However, the problem is that most participants wouldn’t consider a prospective date that didn’t have a Shanghai household registry (hukou). Rural and Urban Hukou offer different levels of social services. High house price is a barrier for many people especially in Shanghai, since for most of them it would take several generations contributing to paying in order to buy a wedding house for their son.
The effectiveness of the marriage market in actually finding marital matches is very difficult to assess. When asked to the participants, one man reported about 1% while another indicated that it is 50% effective. According to Demographic trends China will have a great surplus of unmarried Chinese men who cannot find wives in the coming years.