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Born in the UK but now living in Australia, Paul Fox has travelled to many places throughout China. He has seen the lighter side, the darker side, both the gentle and the seedy sides. He documents his experiences and is willing to share them with anyone who wants to listen. He is not afraid to say things exactly how he sees them, and is quite happy to "name and shame" when necessary.
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Mirror Mirror On The Wall - Chinese Customs

By Paul Fox
698 Views | 9 Comments | 5/13/2017 12:27:40 PM

Chinese customs seem to be going through a cultural change due to the huge generation gap between people who grew up in rural communities and their children who crave smartphones and other things their parents could never afford.

 

At the same time, Chinese culture still expects children to take care of their parents, and are constantly reminded of their 'duty' through a variety of 'shaming tactics'. Chinese parents actually push children into buying apartments, that they can barely afford, in order to guarantee they'll have a place to stay when they get old and retire.

I have a colleague whose parents just paid a deposit on an apartment. Her mother has been staying with her for several months, and despite it having only one-bedroom, her mother shows no sign of leaving.  Buying their children apartments isn't just a simple investment for parents, but a guarantee, at least in their minds, of an old age spent in their children's house.

 

Is it any wonder why the Chinese approach to dating appears to be based mostly on resources rather than love?

 

Back in 2010, a contestant on a Chinese dating show, when asked by an unemployed contestant if she would ride with him on his bike, her (now famous) reply was - "I'd rather cry in the back of a BMW than laugh on the front of a bicycle."

Whilst it may be true that photos of jewelry-laden gold-diggers on certain dating sites can be somewhat off-putting, the criteria that parents demand is often centred around salary, car, and apartment.

A girl I know used to date a guy from a rural area when they were at college together. Although hardworking, honest and decent, he failed to live up to the expectations that she and her parents demanded.

It was obvious that she wanted a boyfriend who could buy her yet another pair of shoes that would sit alongside the 50 or so other pairs that she never wore. Her parents were no different. They wanted to marry her off to someone from a wealthy or well-connected family. Subsequently, she dumped him and managed to find herself a wealthy guy.

 

The ironic thing was that soon afterwards the positions totally reversed. Her boyfriend's parents expected him to marry a girl of his own 'class', so she got dumped! Haha!

Young Chinese people have now invented a new term - 'Naked Marriage' - and it essentially means getting married purely for love, without the house, the car, or any of the other 'frills'.

Although the idea sounds romantic, it seems that opinions are somewhat mixed.

A recent poll discovered that most young Chinese women were opposed to the idea, seeing it as a way for men to dodge their responsibilities, yet the majority of young guys were in full support.

At least Western men don't have their parents pressuring them, not only on who they should date, but to also into buying a house big enough for them to move into when they retire.

I guess we should be thankful for that, lol.

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(Showing 1 to 9 of 9) 1
#2017-05-13 12:27:17 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Paul, everything you have said here is a fair generalization of how the majority of Chinese parents of the upper middle class or higher feel about the necessities of anyone anticipating entering into marriage with their children having the ability to provide a home, a car and a future that is in at least as high an economic level as their current one, and preferably much higher. A large percentage of Chinese at all economic levels feels the same way, but I doubt it's a majority anymore. 

It's also true that in the not too distant past most of the Chinese women on a foreign dating site like CLM, and those hanging out in the bars in China that expats favored, were looking to find some guy to save their families from endless financial suffering. That was mostly because they wrongly perceived that every person from the West was fabulously wealthy.

But these days neither of those situations has much effect on male members of CLM.  Not that golddiggers don't exist at all, but frankly they are far fewer than in the past, because it has become common knowledge that most Western men are not fabulously wealthy, and are more often than not trying to recover from devastating financial circumstances resulting from one or more divorce combined with the incredible amount of debt that Westerners consider to be normal and acceptable. These days most of our Chinese women members, as opposed to seeking a SugarDaddy, are just trying to avoid getting stuck supporting someone for the rest of their lives.

And generally, the women on CLM have reached an age and a level of maturity that they are not still trying to please domineering parents out to have a grandchild, or to gain a place to live.  They may be desparate to marry because of the social pressure to not be a spinster, but it isn't usually a finanacial pressure but more a pressure about face.

Just the same it is important that our men be aware of the social and cultural considerations you've described and you summed them up nicely.

I'd be very interested to hear what some of the Chinese women members have to add to this discussion.

#2017-05-13 13:11:11 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

@JohnAbbot

Timing, as always, is essential, and you couldn't have timed the publishing of this blog any better than you have.

Just this week there is a huge 'buzz' on Chinese social media because of a story related to this discussion. Many of your 'prisoners' in CLM's 'scammer prison' are 'cheats'. Many of them have conned people out of a lot of money. Well, this week's instance is just awesome!

A man in Guangdong Province has conned a 52-year old woman, (from my QLV), out of US$60,000 on some kind of 'dating site'. Get this, the man turned out to be her son-in-law.

THAT, people, is what I call 'poetic justice'.

#2017-05-13 15:22:33 by melcyan @melcyan

The generalisations made here have some measure of truth but like all generalisations, they have their limits. The good thing is that we are not all the same and there is considerable variation, even inside a generalisation.

 

Not all Western men are the same. Not all Chinese women are the same. There are so many people that are not right for a particular Western man or a particular Chinese woman, but fortunately, you only have to find one good match. There is no point in ever pointing the finger at the ones who are not a match for you. Just get on with finding your match.

 

Family (including extended family) is part of the very essence of being Chinese, now and forever. In the West, many men are inclined to see themselves as unique individuals that can be totally separated from family. When I became connected to my Chinese partner I also became connected to her family. This connection is far stronger than I have ever had with any western partner’s family. 

 

My partner's filial piety towards her mother is much more complex than the love, respect and material support that I gave to my mother. I have not only accepted my partner’s filial piety towards her mother, I am now part of it.

 

If you are seeking a Chinese woman who can be separated from her friends, family and extended family you may be searching in vain.

 

#2017-05-13 21:21:17 by Barry1 @Barry1

"the Chinese approach to dating appears to be based mostly on resources rather than love?"

 

You're correct, Paul.

 

During my time teaching in China, I noticed a general tendency that young people were becoming far more superficial than their parents were.  This applied particularly to money and lifestyle items such as clothing and jewellery and no doubt, cars and houses wil follow in due course as they get older.

 

I know also that you've written here before that you're struggling to find a suitable partner in China, because ladies were expecting to hook up with someone with a house in a Western country, not someone intending to reside in Asia or China.

 

I met a lady recently through this website.  One of the first questions she asked me was, "Is your house well looked after?".   I took this to mean "Do you own a house?".  Enough said.

 

Based upon your intimate knowledge of China, might I suggest you consider writing an article about the gender imbalance in China and its future ramifications?  Due to thirty odd years of a one child policy that was revoked only last year, there are many more eligible young males around than females. 

 

Extrapolated from this, do Chinese males resent foreign sites such as this, where Western men are taking away a precious resource - Chinese females?

 

Interesting article, Paul!   (handshake)(beer)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2017-05-14 08:45:15 by chevys @chevys

I am new here but I would like to share my opinion.
I agree with what John has said. Right now, we are living in a globalization era which affect in most of our way of thingking. Ofcourse our parents want the best for their children but most of parents now prefer to see their children to be independent and happy in their life without forgetting family values. They give high education to their children so they can stand on their own feet. Some of their children can study abroad. Right now education and family values are important. Without them, we will lose our identity. In family values, we were taught how to be with eldery people. Not forgetting how they can make us to be right now. So I do not think if most Chinese parents now still asked their daughter to marry western man only for money. There are a lot of independent women wo can support themself even her husband. But if a woman can support herself so what is the job of her husband? Of course we expect a husband that can support his family.

#2017-05-14 12:56:13 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


@chevys

I agree. However, this blog was meant as a generalisation, and, as Melcyan said, it doesn't apply to ALL people. That said, I could recount a lot of first-hand experience whereby I have seen unmarried women, (perhaps those that would fit into the 'Sheng Nv' category), literally being bullied by their parents into finding a husband.

Of course, the first question a somewhat naive Westerner would ask is, 'Why?'

That question would no doubt be followed with something like, 'Why would loving parents try to force their offspring into marrying someone they don't love, in order to have a baby they don't want, with the pretence of 'happiness'?

 

Tradition? Culture? Self-preservation? From my experience, in many cases, it's the latter.

Once again, this IS a generalisation and we shouldn't 'tar everyone with the same brush', but it DOES happen in China, (and many other Asian countries, eg, Thailand), so it's something that Western people need to be aware of. Barry's comment was a perfect example....

 

"I met a lady recently through this website.  One of the first questions she asked me was, "Is your house well looked after?".   I took this to mean "Do you own a house?". 

Of COURSE that's what it meant!

 

#2017-05-14 17:31:57 by znxf @znxf

Hi,friends,

I'm new here. I like this site. It's very interesting and infomative. 

I really hope to find my boyfriend here. I don't ask for much. Only someone I love and loves me as well.I don't mind he is rich or not,what color his skin, which country he comes from.(No matter he is a Chinese or a foreigner).

I'm not pretty nor rich. However i'm mature and wise enough. I understand that if you take someone's apperance and wealth into account, you will miss potential opportunities to meet a great person.

I 'm living a simple life and I can support myself. I 'm willing to support my partner if he needs me to do so. 

 

 

#2017-05-15 20:54:08 by paulfox1 @paulfox1


@Barry1

The gender 'imbalance' in China is a complicated subject.

I had a long chat with one of my (older) students regarding this subject. She is around 30 years old and I refer to her as my 'favourite sheng nv'.

Sure, there is a gender imbalance in China to the rate of around 120:100 in favour of males. Therefore, arguably, she should have no problem in finding a suitable husband - so why does she?

As we all know, China has a HUGE population, but it's not spread out evenly.

Sure, if you take the population as a WHOLE then there is a gender imbalance, but it's essentially localised.

For instance, in my 'QLV' there are reported to be around 98:100 in favour of women. This knocks the national statistics way off course!

Bigger cities seem to have a similar rule. You can check it on the internet.

The gender imbalance, that reflects the 120:100 in favour of males, seems to be more attributable to the countryside. This makes sense insofar as male farm workers are most likely to be preferable to females, but many city-dwelling Chinese females are not interested in marrying a male farm-worker.

If you go back to my original blog content, the answer to this should be blindingly obvious!

#2017-05-16 13:58:37 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

The numbers in China are improving recently as far as the male/female imbalanced ratio is concerned. There is a very good article on the issue here:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-07-31/chinas-girl-births-ratio-improves-as-country-gets-more-educated

I might add that Paul is quite correct that the huge imbalance has largely centered in rural areas where sons stayed home to work the farms while daughters moved to large cities to seek husbands with money.  This is changing too, but for many years, Shenzhen, which has been the fastest growing city in the world most years since the late 1980s, had a ratio of roughly 10% more females than males.

These excess women were generally rural Chinese women in their twenties and thirties who came to Shenzhen to work in the bars, restaurants, hotels and also factories that were popping up everywhere. They were, beyond a doubt, seeking marriage to anyone in a higher financial class than their rural families, and whatever jobs they had found, they were generally diligently sending a high percentage of their earnings back home to support parents and families.

And just as Los Angeles and New York have always attracted the best looking young women from all across the US, who came there hoping to be discovered as models or actresses thanks to their good looks, so too did Shenzhen and Shanghai attract the best looking Chinese women. But unlike the US, these young women were hoping to cash in on their beauty by nailing down a wealthy husband.

With all this going on in the early 2000s, and there being roughly 10,000 single male Expats in Shenzhen, myself among them, it was, as my wife has since frequently remarked, a veritable picnic for Western males. I suspect it still is, though probably not to the degree it was back then, given that Western men are no longer presumed to be wealthy merely by virtue of their being Western.

Just the same, if I was a young Western male looking to find a pretty Chinese wife, I'd start out in Shenzhen even today if I was simply seeking beauty with no care consideration of sophistication. If I was interested in someone more sophisticated and/or more educated, I'd start out in Shanghai.

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