"Double Happiness" for China's matchmaking firms

Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:04pm EDT
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By Royston Chan

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Li Wenqi decided that it was time to take marriage more seriously than her career - especially with her parents gently pushing her in that direction.

So the 30-year-old Shanghai export sales executive went to a matchmaking firm, one of thousands that have sprung up to help young Chinese, busy with work and trying to please fussy parents, find their better half in the face of a gender imbalance.

"I feel it is better late than never for me to be considering marriage at this time. I have to seize the opportunity," Li said.

"But my parents are a little nervous because they feel that women at this age should already be married and even have kids."

In traditional Chinese society, marriages were arranged by families and matchmakers and tying the knot was never in question. Although customs are changing rapidly, the one-child policy in modern China piles on even more pressure on children to get on with the business of producing offspring.

Matchmaking events are increasingly common, with eager singles - often accompanied by concerned parents - gathering in parks on the weekends to search for love among personal information strung up on trees and notice boards.

Television dating shows such as "If You Are the One," in which men have 20 minutes to sell themselves to 24 female guests, have become wildly popular, spawning similar programs on television stations across the nation.

Matchmaking companies have stepped in, riding the wave of popularity of such shows and traditional Chinese parental pressure, to cash in on the marrying business.   Continued...

A parent looks at posters with personal information displayed during a Valentine's Day event at the People's Park in Shanghai, February 14, 2012. REUTERS/Aly Song