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Many people in China who want to get married are having trouble finding a partner. The country's decades-long one-child policy led to the country having more young men than women, and their growing prosperity is making them pickier. The fate of eight young men will be decided today inside a cool, neon-lit shopping centre in Hangzhou, its facade emblazoned with a for "Intimate City".
On their first day of the course, the men fan out in different directions, wearing ironed shirts and gelled hair. Some hook their thumbs into the loops of their jeans, strutting around like peacocks as they try to impress women. Dr Love, their coach at the seminar on flirting, taught them how.
Yang Jing, left, searches for potential candidates to add to the database of Diamond Love, a matchmaking service. Gilles Sabrie. One of the men is Liu Yuqiang, who works at a Chinese supermarket. He wanders the shiny corridors, wearing wiry glasses, a jacket and polished shoes, all intended to hide the fact that he comes from a village of only 80 families.
A man from a rural area would be out of the question as husband material for China's attractive urban women, that much Liu knows. Besides, he's 27, fairly old to be single here. Liu puts one foot in front of the other and moves shyly. He gazes at young women with shopping bags.
They seem to intimidate him. Dr Love is trying to get him to talk to them, to "go hunting", as they call the exercise here at the Feel Love Flirt Academy. China is home to around million singles. For every men in China, there are women; overall, there are 30 million more men than women.
And no Chinese person wants to end up at the end of the line in the family tree. Those who remain unmarried die a quick social death in the country. Pretend you have an appointment, but say you find her enchanting.
Take down her phone and keep moving. Dr Love, 26, wears a red pullover with the words "F--k Em All" on it. A silver chain dangles above it, with the kind of arrows you might find in a western film. Singles take part in a speed-dating event. He walks and walks without talking to a single woman. Ten minutes pass. She carries on without noticing. Dr Love quietly observes him.
Three times he gives him a gentle nudge towards giggling Chinese women. But every time, Liu acts as though he has tripped. He just can't do it. Love has become a complicated matter in China. The country's economic boom is estranging people from one another, tearing them out from their villages and small towns. For centuries, parents Chinese dating agency sydney their children with partners who had the same socio-economic background.
But the boom has dramatically changed the love lives of the Chinese, and the country is developing faster than many people can cope with. The combination of freedom of choice and social pressure has become overwhelming for many. Thousands of flirt trainers, marriage brokers and love gurus are now employed in China's quest for happiness. Baihe, the largest online platform for people looking for someone to marry, has over million members Chinese dating agency sydney would-be matchmaker employees.
Baihe's psychologists fly around the country to hold the hands of crisis-stricken singles; its love experts deliver bouquets of flowers to the beloved, and they sneak around, prying like detectives on people suspected of cheating. They review the solvency of marriage candidates and arrange loans for men who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford a home.
China's matchmaking businesses have revenues of several hundred million dollars a year. So, why are millions of singles having such trouble finding a match? Yang Jing, right, and an assistant talk to a woman about ing up at Diamond Love. One of the eight course participants has succeeded in getting a vague agreement for a date for that evening, Chinese dating agency sydney the others are going away empty-handed.
An hour later, Liu leans against the wall in a cafe and takes hasty sips of water from his thermos flask. His parents are pressuring him. When he recently visited them in the countryside, he kept taking bites of pork just to avoid their questions. Liu is, after all, their only.
His fate was determined inlong before he Chinese dating agency sydney born. At the time, China's Communist Party began its one-child policy, a radical experiment that lasted 35 years. Until the s, Mao Zedong encouraged his citizens to have as many children as possible. But then reformer Deng Xiaoping announced that China's rise could only succeed with fewer births.
Women were subjected to forced sterilisations and female fetuses were aborted. China's strategists created a population that will be too male, too old and at some point too small to feed its labor market. For many men, their preponderance isn't the only handicap. The fact that he comes from this relatively poor provincial region in the south-east ificantly diminishes his prospects for finding a match. The origin of a potential husband is extremely important for well-educated Chinese women, who value prestige and status: things like an apartment and a car.
China is a country of ascension, and nobody wants to be seen as sliding backward. This makes life especially difficult for millions of unmarried migrant workers. They're separated from love by "three, high-towering mountains," says Liu: a lack of money, time and connections. Liu's parents also migrated around the country. And like many children, he grew up with his grandmother. When his grandfather came home, his grandmother would put rice on the table, but she never showed her husband physical affection.
He also didn't have any girlfriends as a student. Teachers and parents discouraged teenage flirtation — they didn't want anything to distract their expensive only child from learning. And so it was that Liu slipped into the marriage market with a typical Chinese inexperience with love and relationships. He should have long since been married by now, but instead he has no experience with women at all.
After school, Liu migrated to the city like millions of others. Increasing s of brides from North Korea or Cambodia began arriving in the typical "bachelor village" in the provinces they left behind. Parents are seeking foreign women for their sons out of sheer desperation.
United Nations workers note there has also been an increase in human trafficking in China's rural areas. Parents try to find spouses for their children at an informal "marriage market" at the Temple of Heaven park in Beijing. Liu moved into a tiny apartment in the city.
He sells instant noodles for a supermarket and is on the prowl for a wife on the side. He has seven dating apps on his mobile phone, including Tantan, China's answer to Tinder. His profile photo shows him doing archery, even though he has no clue about the sport. Dr Love took the pictures and recommended Liu use a soft-focus lens on his face.
He doesn't seem to know that even the rich struggle with love. Indeed, there are men in China who invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their search for a bride. They also suffer as a result of their status, striving for perfection that matches their wealth. The elite agency Diamond Love has its headquarters about kilometres from Liu, in Shanghai, China's shining business metropolis.
Two hundred consultants and full-time matchmakers are at the disposal of the top tier at six locations across the country. Ren is a professional matchmaker. The elegant year-old woman, with a canary-yellow blazer and shiny hair, studied psychology. She knows the romantic problems of the upper class like few others. For women, the questionnaire distinguishes between "hardware" and "software", between appearance and character.
Ren says the trend is toward "very white skin with soft texture", "a fine, oval face and a degree from a top Chinese university". A woman, she says, should be under 30, "warm and hard-working". She says most people want "as little past relationship experience as possible".
Ren's trickiest case is a year-old man she calls "Mr Rich". On the phone, he asks excitedly when there will be "fresh resources". He thought all 50 of the women Ren matched him with were boring. Mr Rich is one of the Fuyidai, as the first generation of wealthy Chinese are called.
He comes from a modest background, and he began investing overseas. It's impossible to speak with Mr Rich, but if one spends time with his agent for several days, a certain world-view emerges. Mr Rich, she says furtively, isn't particularly good-looking. She says he's skinny and smokes too much. Still, she says, he believes he deserves the most beautiful wife, and he has ed a year-long contract with Diamond Love, through which he is entitled to meet five women per month.
She says he treats her matches like luxury cars with unsightly rust marks.Chinese dating agency sydney
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