Editor’s note: this article was translated and edited from Wenxuecity.com, and looks at the recent phenomenon of Shanghai parents who gather at a downtown to park to arrange blind dates for their children. As Shanghai’s twentysomethings are busy finding their way in the world, their parents have taken the responsibility (though often unbeknownst to their children) of finding suitable partners for them through the use of advertising posts. As the trend has gained popularity, there has been a rise of matchmaking agents who have gained profit from the situation, which has led some to be concerned about scamming and “false marriages” .
Come the weekend, Shanghai’s People’s Park, which is located in the bustling center of the city, becomes a blind date hotspot as parents gather at a corner of the park to try and find suitable partners for their children. Thousands of posts detailing the age, height, profession, salary, and education of Shanghai singletons cover a wall as parents prowl around in an attempt to find a suitor for their children.
“Oh! My daughter was born in 1981; there’s only a few years difference…is that ok?” asks one parent. “No. I’m only after those born in 1985 or after,” answers another. From this, we can see that parents take the finding of suitable partners very seriously, with some even going so far as to bring with them property ownership certificates to prove their child’s worth. Sometimes, the parents even end up getting into scraps over their quest to find a suitable partner for their sons and daughters, according to Mrs Xu, the mother of a 27-year-old daughter. Others have even been known to charge as much as 100 RMB just to give away their child’s phone number.
This has been going on for two years now, though Mrs Xu insists that for her, it’s not about whether suitors have money or not. “I don’t care if they don’t have a house. Graduates from Jiaotong and Tongji Universities [top schools in Shanghai] may not necessarily earn much these days, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing well! My daughter is too picky however. She wants someone who can spoil her.” The dates that Mrs Xu organized for her daughter haven’t ended up going too well, and she’s currently looking at men from out of town. “Shanghai men don’t like chasing girls and don’t know how to look after them. There are more single girls than boys these days, and the men’s requirements are getting higher and higher.”
A varying palette of posts
Zheng Bo has a 40-year-old unmarried son who is currently working as a manager. “His needs are too high!” reads his post. A lady named Wang, who has a 25-year-old son, is often surrounded by parents who are interested in her child, though their daughters are all apparently too old for him. There are also posts that refer to sons and daughters living abroad, such as Chinese singletons living in America and Japan. A lady named Qian, who works with her husband in medicine, has a daughter who currently works in Hong Kong, and is secretly searching for a partner for her. “I just hope someone can look after her in Hong Kong. She’s very tall (1.7 m) so she has had trouble finding a partner. Can you help?” reads her post. For mothers like Qian whose children live overseas, finding a partner isn’t easy. She’s been coming to the park for several months now, and hasn’t had any luck so far.
Such gatherings, where parents spontaneously assemble in an attempt to find partners for their children, have been going on for about nine years now. Recent years have seen the emergence of professional marriage introducers who help clients post advertisements for prices ranging from 10 to 100 RMB for a month. There has also been an increase in professional matchmakers, whose price is another story. Among the rows of advertisements, singletons born in the eighties take up more than half of the posts, though there’s also a fair number of posts advertising those born in the nineties. People from all walks of life are on show, with parents of bachelor degree graduates, overseas students, PhD holders, company employees, civil servants, accountants, and even wealthy types all doing their best to find suitable partners for their children.
Formalizing the phenomenon
On the subject of professional matchmakers, one mother stated, “They often lie about the credentials of the singletons. They’ll write a really good profile, but all the things mentioned are often false.” The Shanghai authorities recently stated that they are going to formalize private matchmaking locations, in an attempt to cut down on scams and the occurrence of “false marriages.” In June this year, the authorities will set up formal marriage intermediaries to operate on a regular basis.
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Keywords: Shanghai’s People’s Park Shanghai blind dates Shanghai singletons
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Just a bunch of prehistoric farmers with nothing better to do. It's quite ironic actually. These old farts are the ones that only want to have a son, yet when that very son can't find a partner they can't understand why. When an entire nation only wants to have a boy, of course it will be difficult finding a match! @DanqingDevil, your comment is 100% spot on!
May 01, 2013 15:26 Report Abuse
when i lived in shanghai i used to go to that park, and for the first five or six times i honestly believed that they were having vigils for their sons and daughters that were kidnapped, murdered or indeed tortured, not understanding a word of written chinese, pictures of people, and candles and other stuff burning in front of the pictures true story
May 01, 2013 10:23 Report Abuse
"My daughter is too picky. She wants someone who can spoil her." There you have it in a nutshell. "His needs are too high!" Another nut. And the authorities (the government) are going to formalize locations and set up 'official' marriage intermediaries. Oh ho! Slip the official a few RMB and he'll get that phone number you want. Pardon the skepticism. Don't forget - these are the parents - not the children. Is this just a China thing as I am not aware of other countries doing things like this and I don't want to appear biased? Chatting to a young female friend of mine she and many of her friends actually hate the fact that the parents are out there actively seeking partners for them.
May 01, 2013 09:52 Report Abuse