Love and mar­riage loom over fes­ti­val

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­

As mil­lions pre­pare to head home for Spring Fes­ti­val, many sin­gle men and woman are ex­pect­ing a grilling from rel­a­tives when they get there, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey.

A re­port based on an on­line poll of nearly 130,000 sin­gle­tons na­tion­wide shows the num­ber who com­plain about parental pres­sure over their mar­i­tal status dur­ing the Chi­nese New Year hol­i­day is ris­ing.

Nearly 60 per­cent of men and 50 per­cent of women said they face such pres­sure, ac­cord­ing to the 2016 Sur­vey Re­port on Chi­nese Views of Re­la­tion­ships and Mar­riage, re­leased by dat­ing web­site Ji­ayuan. The fig­ures in 2014 were 33 per­cent and 23 per­cent re­spec­tively, it said.

“My mother, aunts, un­cles and even my grand­mother have helped to ar­range four blind dates for me with men they be­lieve might be a good match dur­ing the seven-day hol­i­day,” said Lin Qing, a 33-year-old bank clerk in Shang­hai.

“Some­times they also show me pho­tos of a neigh­bor my age who just got mar­ried or of one of their friends who has just be­come a grand­mother, which is their way of telling me that I shouldn’t waste any more time.”

The sur­vey high­lights a col­lec­tive anx­i­ety among those born in the 1950s, who ex­pe­ri­enced so­cial in­sta­bil­i­ties such as a short­age of ne­ces­si­ties and get­ting laid-off in their prime, ac­cord­ing to Xue Yali, a re­searcher with the Shang­hai Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences’ Fam­ily Re­search Cen­ter.

“Be­cause of their ex­pe­ri­ences, they dis­like un­cer­tainty of the fu­ture and are afraid that their chil­dren will suf­fer losses and fail­ures,” Xue said. “They usu­ally can’t help with their ca­reer de­vel­op­ment, and can


only help to urge them to start a fam­ily.”

Another rea­son for the ris­ing trend, she said, is that the topic of “left­over” men and women has had a lot of me­dia cov­er­age in re­cent years, so peo­ple feel more pres­sure to look for a spouse be­fore it is too late.

The sur­vey found that peo­ple in Jiangxi prov­ince feel the most pres­sure to get mar­ried, with 63 per­cent of both men and women com­plain­ing about the is­sue. The prob­lem is also acute in He­nan and An­hui prov­inces, the re­port said.

“This is prob­a­bly be­cause peo­ple in these re­gions still hold to the con­ser­va­tive idea that the best age for mar­riage is in the early 20s, de­spite the fact young peo­ple are post­pon­ing mar­riage,” said Meng Yuan, head of pub­lic re­la­tions in Ji­ayuan.

The re­port also said the big­gest turnoffs when look­ing for a spouse are men find­ing women ma­te­ri­al­is­tic, un­rea­son­able or nar­row-minded, and women find­ing men stingy, nar­row-minded and lack­ing mas­culin­ity. Be­trothal gifts be­com­ing pricey

A sur­vey by Ji­ found a huge gap be­tween the price of be­trothal gifts — a deeply-rooted tra­di­tion, es­pe­cially in ru­ral re­gions — that the bride’s fam­ily ex­pects and the bride­groom’s fam­ily is will­ing to pay.

Apart from pre­par­ing a wed­ding apart­ment and wed­ding feast, the bride­groom’s par­ents need to give money as be­trothal gifts to the bride’s par­ents.

The sur­vey found that the av­er­age price the man’s fam­ily is will­ing to pay is 46,377 yuan ($6,700) while the woman’s fam­ily ex­pects nearly 70,000 yuan.

So­cial ex­perts said that the main rea­son that women’s par­ents are ask­ing for more money is the scarcity of women of mar­riage­able age in ru­ral re­gions.

“Be­cause of the pref­er­ence of boys in ru­ral ar­eas, the gen­der ra­tio at birth is nearly 120 to 100, and more­over, some women marry men in cities,” said Zhou Hai­wang, deputy di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Pop­u­la­tion and De­vel­op­ment at the Shang­hai Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences.

But some peo­ple think be­trothal gifts are an im­por­tant sign of re­spect to the bride.

“The bride’s par­ents won’t wit­ness how much their sonin-law loves their daugh­ter in ev­ery­day life, but the money is a way for the groom’s fam­ily to show how much they like the daugh­ter-in-law,” said Guo Ben­fang, mother of a 22-year-old sin­gle woman in Shoux­ian county, An­hui prov­ince.


Peo­ple ride a sled on the frozen Shicha­hai Lake in Bei­jing on Thurs­day. Win­ter sports fans from the cap­i­tal and Zhangji­akou, He­bei prov­ince, par­tic­i­pated in other events to pro­mote the 2022 Win­ter Olympics, which will be co-hosted by Bei­jing and Zhangji­akou.


A man adds a woman to his con­tact list on an in­sant mes­sag­ing app at a group date event in Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, in Novem­ber last year.

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