MATCHMAKERS, PARENTS AND MARRIAGE IN CHINA

ARRANGED MARRIAGES AND MATCHMAKERS IN CHINA

right Traditionally, families had more say in regard to a marriage than the man and woman who were getting married. In the old days, young men and women that liked one another were not allowed to meet freely together. Young people who put their wishes for a mate above the wishes of their parents were considered immoral.

China’s matchmaking tradition stretches back more than 2,000 years, to the first imperial marriage broker in the late Zhou dynasty. The goal of matchmakers ever since has usually been to pair families of equal stature for the greater social good.

Marriages have traditionally been regarded as unions between families with matches being made by elders who met to discuss the character of potential mates and decide whether or not a they should get married. Marriages that are arranged to varying degrees are still common and traditional considerations still plays a part in deciding who marries whom. One matchmaker told the Los Angeles Times, “Marriage is for the parents, the society and future generations. It’s not about happiness or love.”

Up until a century ago marriage registry forms required the seal of an “introducer.” In the old days, arranged marriages among the upper classes were intended to firm up a family's social position and status and extend the family's social network. Rich men could have as many wives as they could afford. Many marriages were worked out when the bride and groom were still children. Occasionally this occurred before they were born if two families were intent on forming a union.

A traditional Chinese marriage was often set up by a matchmaker hired by the parents when potential bride and groom reached marriageable age. In their search, the matchmakers took various things into consideration: education, family background, and a kind of fortunetelling based on year, date and time of birth. One saying that dates back to the 7th century B.C. goes: “How do you split firewood? Without an ax it can’t be done. How do you go about finding a wife? Without a go-between it can’t be done.”

In a marriage arranged by a matchmaker, the matchmaker hosts a tea where the young couple meet for the first time. The young woman serves tea to the young man and his relatives. If the man likes the woman he can propose marriage by offering her an embroidered red bag on the saucer in which the cup or tea was served. If the woman accepts the saucer she accepts the proposal and the couple is engaged.

There are more than 20,000 matchmaking agencies in China. They have names like the Tianjin Municipal Trade Union Matchmaker’s Association and the Beijing Military and Civilian Matchmaking Service. Some of them are unscrupulous brokers who try to con women into marrying lonely rural men.

Matchmaking and Dating in Modern China

Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore wrote in The Telegraph, “ China’s spectacular economic growth has, for many, turned dating and marriage into a commercial transaction, and material expectations from marriage have soared. It is often said – only half-jokingly – that to compete even at the lower reaches of the urban Chinese dating market men must have at least a car and a flat. The matchmaking industry has gone into overdrive, not just to cater to the rich but also because of government unease over the numbers of older single professional women.[Source: Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore, The Telegraph, October 22, 2013 ^|^]

“Although forced or arranged marriage was banned in 1950, finding a partner remains a formal process for many.“Marriage is seen as a factor in promoting social stability,” explains Leta Hong Fincher, the author of a forthcoming book on “leftover women” and gender inequality in China. “There is lots written in the state media about how all these tens of millions of unmarried men pose a threat to society. But at the other end of the spectrum, unmarried women who are not fulfilling their 'duty to the nation’ by getting married and having children are also seen as a threat.” As it has moved from communism towards a freer economy China has become a richer – and also increasingly unequal – society. And as a disproportionate few make fortunes, leaving tens of millions of ordinary people behind, many women see marrying a rich man as a short-cut to wealth. ^|^

Brook Larmer wrote in the New York Times, “Three decades of combustive economic growth have reshaped the landscape of marriage in China. China’s transition to a market economy has swept away many restrictions in people’s lives. But of all the new freedoms the Chinese enjoy today — making money, owning a house, choosing a career — there is one that has become an unexpected burden: seeking a spouse. This may be a time of sexual and romantic liberation in China, but the solemn task of finding a husband or wife is proving to be a vexing proposition for rich and poor alike. “The old family and social networks that people used to rely on for finding a husband or wife have fallen apart,” said James Farrer, an American sociologist whose book, “Opening Up,” looks at sex, dating and marriage in contemporary China. “There’s a huge sense of dislocation in China, and young people don’t know where to turn.” [Source: Brook Larmer, New York Times, March 19, 2013 ^-^]

“The confusion surrounding marriage in China reflects a country in frenzied transition. Sharp inequalities of wealth have created new fault lines in society, while the largest rural-to-urban migration in history has blurred many of the old ones. As many as 300 million rural Chinese have moved to cities in the last three decades. Uprooted and without nearby relatives to help arrange meetings with potential partners, these migrants are often lost in the swell of the big city. Demographic changes, too, are creating complications. Not only are many more Chinese women postponing marriage to pursue careers, but China’s gender gap — 118 boys are born for every 100 girls — has become one of the world’s widest, fueled in large part by the government’s restrictive one-child policy. By the end of this decade, Chinese researchers estimate, the country will have a surplus of 24 million unmarried men.^-^

“Without traditional family or social networks, many men and women have taken their searches online, where thousands of dating and marriage Web sites have sprung up in an industry that analysts predict will soon surpass $300 million annually. These sites cater mainly to China’s millions of white-collar workers. But intense competition, along with mistrust of potential mates’ online claims, has spurred a growing number of singles — rich and poor — to turn to more hands-on matchmaking services. Today, matchmaking has warped into a commercial free-for-all in which marriage is often viewed as an opportunity to leap up the social ladder or to proclaim one’s arrival at the top. Single men have a hard time making the list if they don’t own a house or an apartment, which in cities like Beijing are extremely expensive. And despite the gender imbalance, Chinese women face intense pressure to be married before the age of 28, lest they be rejected and stigmatized as “leftover women.” ^-^

Parent Meddling and Unhappy Marriages in China

Laurie Burkitt of the Wall Street Journal wrote: “Many marriages are certainly based on personal choice, without the help of mom and pop, but sociologists say it’s likely that parental guidance is far more common in China than in the U.S. Anecdotally, children across China feel the pressure of rising healthcare costs and the lack of investment vehicles, so some end up acquiescing to economics-driven marriages. That said, even in the U.S., some have recently queried whether parents should be more involved in directing what goes on at the altar. [Source: Laurie Burkitt, China Real Time, Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2015 +++]

According to a World Bank research paper titled “Love, Money, and Old Age Support: Does Parental Matchmaking Matter?” Chinese marriages in which parents play matchmaker and pick spouses for their children are likely to be unhappy. “Parental matchmaking is robustly correlated with lower marital harmony,” the report said. +++

Burkitt wrote: “The reason for the unmerry marriages is that parents put their own needs for elderly care ahead of love, say researchers. Lacking hearty social security, Mom and Dad worry about the post-retirement years and how they’ll be cared for, so they look for wealthy mates for their children who will provide financial security. They also seek submissive mates who will happily tend to chores, boosting household productivity, the report said. +++

“Researchers surveyed 3,400 rural couples and 3,800 urban couples in seven provinces across China in 1991. While the data might be old, said Colin Xu, one of the authors, parental influence remains important in Chinese culture. Traditionally arranged marriages in which children have no say in their marital fate are no longer as prevalent in current-day China, but Mr. Xu said Chinese parents still tend to be heavy-handed in the match-making process. In parks all across China, mothers and fathers meet for a marital NFL draft, swapping statistics regarding their children’s education, assets, salary and profession. +++

“While the World Bank’s research doesn’t find many positive effects for couples whose parents play matchmaker, the paper doesn’t point to parental matchmaking as a cause for China’s climbing divorce rates. Still, regardless of a marriage’s level of happiness, many Chinese parents do succeed in their economic goals in more ways than one. The research said parent-patched marriages yield in higher income for couples in urban areas.

New Year Means Parental Nagging for Unmarried Chinese

William Wan wrote in the Washington Post, “Chinese New Year is a time of celebration, but for many young Chinese, heading home for the week-long national holiday means facing this inevitable question from their parents: Why aren’t you married yet? This perennial source of angst has become so feared in recent years that many opt to work overtime during the festival to avoid their families altogether. [Source: William Wan, Washington Post, February 17, 2015 |=|]

“Pressure to get married has a long tradition in China, but worsening the situation these days is an increasing generational and urban-rural gap in views. In big cities, more young professionals are opting to remain single well into their 30s, while those in small cities and rural areas continue to marry young. Those who stay single often face discrimination and finger pointing. Women over a certain age (around 25) are often derogatorily labeled “leftover women.” And China’s decades-old one-child policy and Chinese preferences for sons have also severely skewed the sex ratio, with the latest statistics showing 33 million more men in China than women in 2014. |=|

“Chinese parents often feel it is their responsibility to find a match for their children. And among their children, the biggest filial offense is the failure to bear offspring. Young people share tips on social media on how to fend off parental nagging during the new year. One hugely popular “manual” that’s circulated this year suggests demonstrating more anxiety than your parents over not being married or giving a lengthy report on the number of blind dates you’ve suffered through. |=|

Other choice tips: 1) Divert your parents’ attention with the latest Chinese celebrity gossip. 2) Create illusion and mystery by wearing a cheap couple’s ring, and change your screensaver to a picture with a member of the opposite sex. When asked who it is, play shy and embarrassed. 3) Collude with a fortuneteller by having the clairvoyant tell your parents that you’re simply not suited for an early marriage. |=|

In 2012, Evan Osnos of The New Yorker wrote: “A few days before the Year of the Dragon began, Jiayuan (Beautiful Destiny), China’s largest online dating service, summoned new employees to an orientation meeting at its headquarters, in a Beijing office tower. Over the holiday, single men and women across the country would be returning home to visit relatives—only to find themselves interrogated relentlessly about marriage prospects. For some, the pressure would be unbearable. Afterward, Jiayuan’s enrollment would experience a surge similar to the New Year’s surge at fitness clubs in America. [Source: Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, May 14, 2012]

Fake Partners in China

Finding a new man to take home for the holidays proved surprisingly easy for Lily Li. He had to be reliable, taciturn---and available for a few hundred yuan. "I was not looking for some perfect guy to marry. Just someone tall---my parents like tall guys a lot---honest and not too talkative, so he doesn't say something wrong," explained the 26-year-old. [Source: Tania Branigan, The Guardian, January 20, 2012]

Lunar new year in particular can be a major headache for those returning home without a potential spouse. Pressure on young adults to settle down goes into overdrive, as gathering family members begin the inquisition and line up possible candidates.Taking a boyfriend or girlfriend home is a fast way to curb the speculation, which is why Li, like other twentysomethings, has hired a fake partner through an online agency.

"My parents want me to get married by 30," the office worker explained. "Bringing a 'boyfriend' back home simply means I get less hassle from relatives and my parents will stop worrying about my romantic life." Li will pay him between 500 and 700 yuan (£51-£72) a day---they are still haggling---to accompany her from Beijing to Hunan to meet her parents. "I don't need him to stay long, just one night, New Year's Eve, and he can just say work is busy and he has to go back the next day, like [the guy I hired] last year," she said.

She is keeping the meeting deliberately short to prevent her parents learning too much about him. Although she has vetted him over a coffee, she does not really know him and worries he might turn out to be a thief and steal from her home. Despite such potential drawbacks, the phenomenon has become so well established it has spawned films such as Contract Lover and a hit TV drama, Renting a Girlfriend to Return Home for New Year.

One man touting his services on Taobao---a popular online shopping site---said a "basic programme" of meeting parents and visiting relatives would cost 300 yuan a day. But, perhaps half-jokingly, he offered optional extras including doing chores (for 70 yuan an hour) and drinking China's lethal baijiu spirit with relatives (at 50 yuan per 100ml). Few "couples" will have to share bedrooms---families tend to be conservative in that regard---but some advertisers spell out the non-sexual nature of the deal, to avoid misunderstanding.This may be wise, since one agent offering fake girlfriends for bachelors did appear to have something else in mind: he was persistent in asking an inquirer whether "other services" were needed.

Hu Xingdou, a social commentator at the Beijing Institute of Technology, suggested that the trend for hiring fake partners had emerged from a clash between old and new ideas. Increasing materialism and the pressures of Chinese life made it harder for young people to find a partner, while parents still expected their children to marry young, he said. But it may also reflect another enduring Chinese belief: the importance of being filial. Many people are reluctant to upset their parents by confronting them and would rather pretend to conform.

"Taking someone fake home is definitely not what I want, but it at least can cheer up my parents," said Li Huahua, a 23-year-old graduate from Sichuan who used her nickname to preserve anonymity. "They expect me to have a boyfriend and get married at 26 or 27. Because I'm lesbian and very certain about my sexuality, it's probably more difficult for me to fulfil their demands and more necessary to find a cover."

She has persuaded a male friend to pretend they are a couple so she does not have to hire a stranger. But she still has one major concern: her mother and father might like him. "My parents might accept him as their future son-in-law and ask me to bring him again next year," she said. "It's not easy to have the same guy every time."

China’s 'Rent-A-Boyfriend' Services

Adam Taylor wrote in the Business Insider, “When even the daughter of China's richest man apparently can't snag a mate, people are parting to find inventive ways to solve the problem. Hence the sudden appearance of "rent a boyfriend" services. AFP reported that at least 300 different businesses selling male companionship could be found online” in February 2013, “each with varying price tags and limits of intimacy. [Source: Adam Taylor, Business Insider, February 14, 2013 \*\]

“Jane Lanhee Lee from Reuters filmed a video with one of these "rent a boyfriend" business owners, a young man willing to be your boyfriend over the Lunar New Year for the right price (there's a base rate of $90 a day). As Lee acknowledges in her video, the "rent a boyfriends" (and the accompanying "leftover women") are actually a strange concept in China, where single men outnumber single women, and many believe that a growing number of angry, lone males may be damaging to the society. However, the very existence of the "rent a boyfriend" services shows exactly how strong the concept of "leftover women" has become.” \*\

Xu Lin wrote in the China Daily, “Men advertising "fake boyfriend" services on Taobao.com, one of China's leading e-commerce providers, has prompted fierce debate online. For an hourly fee, a boyfriend-for-hire will accompany the customer to visit friends or family, go shopping, have meals, and even kiss. More than 260 fake boyfriends are available on Taobao.com, with more popping up after news of the service spread across the Internet. Some advertisements are targeted at those anxious to bring a boyfriend home to meet their parents, while some are for those who only want to spend time with the opposite sex. "I don't have many opportunities to meet girls. The business is not for money. It's just bored people meeting each other," said Xue Shuai, 22, from Qingdao, Shandong province, who rents himself out as a boyfriend. Xue's rented himself out for two years, but has only had about six customers, with their ages ranging from 19 to 26. He accompanies them to meals, movies, or the seaside, charging 20 yuan ($3.22) per hour. [Source: Xu Lin, China Daily, January 21, 2013 ~]

“An anonymous female buyer commented on his online store, "It's good. I enjoyed the movie with this funny guy." Because he is still single, Xue is looking forward to a romantic encounter in his business. "I think others may also share my fantasies," he said. "Some girls were not in a good mood, so I chatted with them. We only go to public places, for my own safety," he said. Beijing Normal University associate professor of psychology Lin Xiuyun said people use these services because they are lonely. Lin said people should have a positive attitude about being single and said the upcoming Spring Festival can be an opportunity to reflect on what one wants from a relationship. ~

“Gao Jianbing, 31, from Chengdu, Sichuan province, echoed Xue's comments. He opened a store on taobao.com, offering similar services, with about eight men available for "rent". He said it is just a part-time job and his main online store is a flower delivery service. A few females ask for sexual services these requests are turned down. "Customers just want to relax. It's a bit like psychological consultation and they like to pour out their hearts to strangers," Gao says. ~

Parents Making Matches in Parks

Marriage is still viewed as a necessary step in every adult's life and parents are often very much engaged in finding mates for their children. Chinese parents flood public parks, armed with resumes of their unmarried adult children, to meet other parents with children to marry off, hoping to attract good matches. Some meet other parents in parks such as Zhongshan Park in Beijing and exchange notes on height. wealth, education, food preference, Chinese animal sign and even birthmarks and blood type in their search for a good match. "As soon as I hit 22, my mother visited Zhongshan Park every day," Beijing native Xu Qiang, 25, told the Strait Times. "She told me if I delay getting married, I won't be able to find a good wife later."

Parents representing daughters often outnumber parents representing sons by a margin of 10 to 1, mainly because of the biological clock and those with older sons don’t waste their time, and 90 percent of the children the parents are seeking mates for are in their 30s. Parents with tall sons with good jobs or a degree from a prestigious university are often mobbed. The Los Angeles Times reported one 80-year-old woman at the park looking for wife for her 51-year-old son.

Chinese children have different view about their parents search for mates for them in parks. A 27-year-old artist told the Los Angeles Times, “I’m not happy about this. I told my mother not to go to the park. I don’t need her help.” A 23-year-old nurse said, “I have a pretty small circle of friends and no one in sight as a boyfriend. If my parents found someone I’d probably take a look at them.”

Mother Looking for a Wife for Her Son in Beijing Park

Brook Larmer wrote in the New York Times, “In a Beijing park near the Temple of Heaven, a woman named Yu Jia jostled for space under a grove of elms. A widowed 67-year-old pensioner, she was clearing a spot on the ground for a sign she had scrawled for her son. “Seeking Marriage,” read the wrinkled sheet of paper, which Ms. Yu held in place with a few fragments of brick and stone. “Male. Single. Born 1972. Height 172 cm. High school education. Job in Beijing.” Ms. Yu is....a parent seeking a spouse for an adult child in the so-called marriage markets that have popped up in parks across the city. Long rows of graying men and women sat in front of signs listing their children’s qualifications. Hundreds of others trudged by, stopping occasionally to make an inquiry. Ms. Yu’s crude sign had no flourishes: no photograph, no blood type, no zodiac sign, no line about income or assets. The sign didn’t even specify what sort of wife her son wanted. “We don’t have much choice,” she explained. “At this point, we can’t rule anybody out.” [Source: Brook Larmer, New York Times, March 19, 2013 ^-^]

“In the four years she has been seeking a wife for her son, Zhao Yong, there have been only a handful of prospects. Even so, when a woman in a green plastic visor paused to scan her sign that day, Ms. Yu put on a bright smile and told of her son’s fine character and good looks. The woman asked: “Does he own an apartment in Beijing?” Ms. Yu’s smile wilted, and the woman moved on. One afternoon last summer, however, there was a glimmer of hope. Ms. Yu traded information with a mother who didn’t dismiss her son out of hand. The woman’s daughter was 35, with a good education, a substantial income and a Beijing residency permit. She was, in some eyes, a leftover woman. Ms. Yu e-mailed Mr. Zhao’s picture to her that evening. The daughter declined to meet at first. A week later, she called back: “Yes, maybe.” Ms. Yu was thrilled. It was her first solid lead in months. ^-^

Story Behind Chinese Mother Looking for a Wife for Her Son

Brook Larmer wrote in the New York Times, “Yu Jia kept her search a secret at first. She didn’t want to risk upsetting her son so soon after a trying time for the family. Ms. Yu and her husband, who was sick with lung cancer, had left the northern city of Harbin in the hope of finding better treatment for his cancer in Beijing, where two of their sons already lived. The husband hung on for a year before he died in 2009 — not long, but long enough to wipe out the last of the family’s $25,000 in savings. Devastated, Ms. Yu stayed in an apartment on the outskirts of Beijing with her sons — one married; the other, Zhao Yong, still single at 36. But one day, Ms. Yu came upon a crowd swarming under the elm trees near the Temple of Heaven. [Source: Brook Larmer, New York Times, March 19, 2013 ^-^]

“Her life suddenly had a new purpose. “I decided that I will not go home until I find a wife for my son,” she told me. “It’s the only thing left unfinished in my life.” Plunging into a crowd of strangers with her sign made Ms. Yu feel awkward at first. Her elder two sons had found wives in traditional ways, one through a matchmaker, the other through a friend. But Mr. Zhao, her youngest, had not. After losing his job in an electronics factory in Harbin, he followed his hometown sweetheart to Beijing. They were in love and planned to marry. But her family demanded a bride price — a sort of dowry used in rural China — of $15,000. His family could not afford it, and the relationship ended. ^-^

“”Mr. Zhao threw himself into his work as a driver and salesman. His former girlfriend married and had a baby. He told his mother he had little time to think about marriage. The strangers in the park, uprooted from their traditional family and hometown networks, shared similar stories, and Ms. Yu found comfort there. Many other parents, she realized, were even more frantic; they had only one child because of China’s policy. (Ms. Yu, as a rural mother, was permitted to have multiple offspring.) The marriage candidates on offer in the parks, she discovered, were often a mismatch of shengnu (“leftover women”) and shengnan (“leftover men”), two groups from opposite ends of the social scale. Shengnan, like her son, are mostly poor rural men left behind as female counterparts marry up in age and social status. The phenomenon is exacerbated by China’s warped demographics, as the bubble of excess men starts to reach marrying age. ^-^

“Ms. Yu’s son, Mr. Zhao, was angry when he found out that she had been searching for a wife for him. He didn’t want to rely on anybody else’s marketing, especially his mother’s. But he has since relented. “I see how hard she works, so I can’t refuse,” he told me. Ms. Yu doesn’t tell her son about the parents who scoff when they find out he has no property and no Beijing residency permit. But the handful of young women she’s persuaded to meet him never made it to a second date. ^-^

Chinese Guy Rejects Proposal from Moderately Well-Off Woman

Brook Larmer wrote in the New York Times, “One Friday last fall, I met with Yu Jia and her son Zhao Yong at a McDonald’s in western Beijing. Now 39, Mr. Zhao has a youthful, unlined face. Still, he worries that time is passing him by. To save money and to enhance his marriage prospects, he works two jobs simultaneously — one selling microwaves, the other cosmetics — crisscrossing the city on his electric bike. He earns about $1,000 a month, and sometimes adds $80 more by working weekends as a film extra. [Source: Brook Larmer, New York Times, March 19, 2013 ^-^]

“It is a respectable income, but hardly enough to attract a bride in Beijing. Even in the countryside, where men’s families pay bride prices, inflation is rampant. Ms. Yu’s family paid about $3,500 when Mr. Zhao’s older brother married 10 years ago in rural Heilongjiang. Today, she said, brides’ families ask for $30,000, even $50,000. An apartment, the urban equivalent of the bride price, is even further out of reach. At Mr. Zhao’s current income, it would take a decade or two before he could afford a small Beijing apartment, which he said would start at about $100,000. “I’ll be an old man by then,” he said with a rueful smile.^-^

“Mr. Zhao has met several women on online dating sites, but he lost faith in the Internet when several women lied to him about their marital status and family backgrounds. His mother, however, had come through, arranging a meeting between him and the daughter of the woman she had met in the marriage market. Not long after our conversation in McDonald’s, Mr. Zhao met the woman at a coffee shop. It was, he told me later, even more awkward than most first dates. A rural migrant and door-to-door salesman, he struggled to find a shared topic of interest with the woman, a 35-year-old entrepreneur and Beijing native who had arrived driving a BMW sedan. ^-^

“The lack of chemistry didn’t seem to bother the woman, who told him about her profitable photo business and the three Beijing apartments she owned. Mr. Zhao didn’t find her unattractive, but how was he supposed to respond? Then, even before broaching the possibility of a second date, he said, the woman made a proposition: if they married, he wouldn’t have to work again. “She said she made enough money for the two of us,” he said. “I could have anything I want.” The marriage proposal stunned him. He had never heard a woman talk in such blunt, pragmatic terms. A life of wealth and leisure sounded tempting. Still, in the end, he couldn’t imagine being subordinate to a woman. “If I accepted that situation,” he asked me, “what kind of man would I be?” ^-^

“It took Mr. Zhao several days before he worked up the nerve to tell his mother he had rejected the offer. He knew how hard she had worked, how much she had been counting on this. The news frustrated Ms. Yu. “Kids these days are way too picky,” she said. Even with this setback, Ms. Yu has continued her daily pilgrimage to the marriage markets. When I last spoke to her early this month, she was arranging dates for her son with three new marriage candidates she had found. “I’m optimistic,” she said. After all these years, hope is what keeps her going.” ^-^

Looking for a Husband for a Chinese Leftover Woman

Didi Kirsten Tatlow wrote in the New York Times, “China has about 20 million more men under 30 years of age than women, according to official news reports — largely the result of gender selective abortion, with many parents preferring a son to a daughter. So why is the phenomenon of “leftover women” apparently so widespread? Aren’t desperate men snapping up available women? Not exactly. Traditional attitudes demand that a man earn more than a woman, meaning that as women earn increasingly more they are pricing themselves out of the marriage market.” [Source: Didi Kirsten Tatlow, New York Times, April 23, 2013 <=>]

Brook Larmer wrote in the New York Times, “Finding a Chinese spouse can be even more challenging for so-called leftover women, even if they often have precisely what the shengnan lack: money, education and social and professional standing. One day in the Temple of Heaven park, I met a 70-year-old pensioner from Anhui Province who was seeking a husband for his eldest daughter, a 36-year-old economics professor in Beijing. [Source: Brook Larmer, New York Times, March 19, 2013 ^-^]

“My daughter is an outstanding girl,” he said, pulling from his satchel an academic book she had published. “She’s been introduced to about 15 men over the past two years, but they all rejected her because her degree is too high.”The failure compelled him to forbid his youngest daughter from going to graduate school. “No man will want you,” he told her. That daughter is now married in Anhui, with an infant son whom the pensioner, so busy seeking a spouse for her older sister in Beijing, rarely sees. ^-^

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Chinese government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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