Beijing: Finding the other half can be a tricky business in modern-day China, especially for the single men left over by the country’s gender imbalance. As a result, matchmaking events, pick-up schools and TV dating shows are rapidly gaining popularity in the world’s most populous nation. Eager singles have swamped matchmaking events held in Beijing throughout the Chinese New Year, hoping to bounce into the Year of the Rabbit on a high note.
An estimated 50,000 people visited a week-long event in the capital’s Ditan Park, according to the organizer Jianyuan.com, a popular Chinese matchmaking website with over 40 million registered members. Men and women, mostly white collars in their late 20s and early 30s, flirted and exchanged phone numbers and pieces of paper with their details.
Twenty-nine-year-old insurance worker Chen Nan said pressure from family and friends meant he was stepping up the search for “Miss Right”.
“I am the third oldest in my family, and everyone has a girlfriend except for me. Whenever there are get-togethers with university classmates and relatives they ask questions like ‘Why don’t you have a girlfriend’ or ‘Are you going to have one next year’? So there is really a lot of pressure, a lot of invisible pressure,” he said.
According to Jiayuan.com, over 70 percent of participants were in fact anxious parents looking to fix up children too busy or too shy to meet the opposite sex. An army of 50-somethings browsed rows of sheets of paper showing singles’ personal information strung up between trees, jotting down details for their children.
Some compared details with other parents, held signs advertising their sons and daughters and organized dates on their behalves. Some even did it with their reluctant child in tow. According to the recent ‘2010 China marriage and relationship survey report’, 260 million Chinese are looking for love, of which 180 million were singles and 80 million were concerned parents.
Mrs. Li seemed far more concerned about finding a daughter-in-law than her 26-year-old son, an IT technician. “My son is very busy with work, not just busy, but extremely busy. He has to work overtime a lot, he doesn’t have many opportunities to meet girls. I don’t know if he is worried, but I am quite worried. That’s why when I saw the event, I rushed straight in,” she said.
The 30-year-old one-child policy has exacerbated China’s gender imbalance, with the latest figures showing that 119 boys are born for every 100 girls. As a result, more than 24 million of bachelors could find themselves without spouses by 2020, a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said, attributing it to gender-selection abortion as a result of a traditional preference for the male children.
For young men feeling the pressure, help is at hand in the form of dating coaches like Chris Wu. Wu runs an online forum with his friends to teach single males how to meet and keep women and holds seminars several times a year. In worst case scenarios, Wu personally teaches them how to pick one up on the street.
“Some men spend a lot of time studying and working, therefore, they need to improve their social skills, this is an important factor. In addition, China has a lot of males, the gender ratio shows the number of men exceeds that of women, which will remain a problem in ten to twenty years,” he said.
Wu’s business partner, a self confessed pro, first shows us how it’s done by getting a passing girl’s number on the first try.After a couple of embarrassing knock-backs, 25-year-old disciple Mr. He managed to get one too.
“I am very excited, I feel like life is full of surprises. If you think about it, it’s just two ordinary people meeting on the street but it could turn into a love story,” he said. ”If You Are The One”, a matchmaking TV show which gives men 20 minutes to sell themselves to 24 female guests, has become the most watched TV program in China’s eastern Jiangsu Province.
Some contestants might end up holding hands at the end of the night, but the success rate of the matchmaking still remains low. As of last week, the show had received 20,000 applications, and organisers were hoping to launch it abroad.
The show was censored by the country’s Communist authorities after a female guest said she would rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bicycle, causing a public outcry about promoting materialism amongst young women. With a lack of women, and ever greater demands on their time and money, for China’s young men, finding a wife is not what it used to be.-Reuters