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Demand for Match-Making on the Rise in China

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Download I-Research, a Chinese market research company, estimates that the number of single Chinese net users over the age of 18 is to reach nearly 200 million in 2015.

The country’s rapid economic development is affecting the way people find a soul mate.

Values are changing but family pressure to get married remains intense, so many look for external help – both online and offline.

Parents continue to gather in parks to match their children, but online match-making services and TV dating shows are becoming more and more popular and lucrative.

As Lam Li reports from Beijing, marriage is no longer a personal business in China.

“If You Are The One” is the most popular dating show in China. It has been running for three years now.  

Single men and women come up on stage to vet each other’s qualifications and after rounds of elimination, may succeed in finding a ‘soul mate’.

But long before TV existed, parents have been gathering in parks to find the perfect match for their children.

Zhongshan Park in Beijing has a weekly Sunday gathering known as the ‘marriage market’.

Lei is in her early 50s and doesn’t want to use her real name.

She’s holding a notepad ready to take down information about potential husbands for her daughter.

“My daughter is 27 years old. Her daily routine is from home to office and back, she’s too busy with work, what can I do? [sigh…aiyo] Even if I managed to help her find a boyfriend, there’s no guarantee it would work out, and pretty soon, she’ll be in her 30s...”   

Other concerned parents are carrying home-made posters or handing out leaflets as they walk around the park making enquiries.

The posters have photos of their children with some basic facts: date of birth, height, personal characteristics, occupation and... salary.

Many of the candidates are young professionals, ranging from doctors to IT consultants.

Earlier this year, research carried out by marriage consultancy firms revealed that highly educated Chinese tend to marry late and face intense social pressure to tie the knot.

32-year-old Ma Ling owns an oil and gas company and drives the latest BMW model.

Ma Ling’s mother matches her with eligible partners and checks on their progress from time to time.

“If you do not get married, do not give birth, your life is considered incomplete. But when your material expectations are rising, you become more experienced and more educated, naturally, you have higher standards when choosing a husband. But in this male-dominated society, people perceive successful women differently. Men feel threatened if their other half earns more, or has a higher status, and that affects family harmony.”

Today, many Chinese look to online dating websites to find a soul-mate.

The number of China’s net users over the age of 18 and remain single is projected to reach nearly 200 million in 2015.

I-Research, a leading Chinese market research company reported that online dating platforms were worth about 8 million US dollars in 2010. And its market value is projected to hit 3 billion US dollars by 2015.

28-year-old journalist Wei Chengwu, has been posting his profile on an online dating website since 2010. He has met a few potential girlfriends through the site.

“In recent years, China has undergone rapid urbanization. I come from a rural area but because I am educated I managed to enter the big city and find a job here. But we don’t have that much money; we don’t have good social  connections. I have to work extra hard to live in a big city like this. Between my early 20s and early 30s, this is the most important time for building my career. I have to put in extra time and effort at work. I really don’t have much energy left to find love and romance.”

‘Century Jiayuan’ is one of the biggest online dating websites, boasting some 70 million members. And it’s growing stronger, with 1 million new members every 20 days.

The company also provides offline services, such as organizing social gatherings and personalised match-making sessions. Gong Haiyan is the company’s founder and CEO.

“We have a special head hunter service for the high end market, mainly for successful entrepreneurs, like bosses of listed companies, they pay several thousand US dollars in annual fees. Many of our male entrepreneur members are cautious due to past experiences. When they were younger, they lacked the material means like houses, cars, stocks, and they were rejected by women time and time again because of that, so they prioritized their energy and time to building a career instead. Now that they are in their late 30s and 40s, they are successful and sought after, but they are guarded, and match-making services provide a screening process to help meet their strict requirements.”

Business is booming and online dating companies have joined up with TV networks to create reality shows like “Let’s Go on A Date” and “If You Are the One”.

Advertising on TV dating shows are costly. The number one ranking show “If You are the One” is reportedly selling the main sponsorship slot for 17 million US dollar a year.

Participants for TV dating shows stand to win dating funds from sponsors, and may be, also succeed in finding true love.


Last Updated ( Saturday, 15 December 2012 15:12 )  

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