Monday, June 21, 2010

Dreams of Marrying Money

Chinese women have the upper hand when it comes to finding Mr Right, or do they?

A popular dating show on TV called If You Are The One, broadcast by Jiangsu Satellite TV, reveals what women want -- which is to show them the money.

In the program, 24 single women judge a bachelor by asking him questions and watching a short video of him. If they don't think he's suitable, they turn off their lights. If there are any lights still on after three rounds of screening, then he gets to date one of the women.

And it's those who have a well-paying job, a house and car that get the most lights, while those with hardly any assets make a quick exit.

The show gained notoriety when one of the female guests, Ma Nuo, told an unemployed suitor that she would prefer to cry in a BMW than smile on a bicycle.

Another guest, Zhu Zhenfang, said her sole requirement for a boyfriend was that he had to earn at least 200,000RMB ($29,420) a month. Where is she going to get a man like that unless a) he is a tycoon or b) a corrupt official.

Bridal demands over 30 years ago weren't that outrageous.

In the 1970s, for groom to marry his wife, he had to provide a bicycle, watch and a sewing machine. This progressed to a TV set, washing machine and a fridge in the 1980s. Now bachelors are only eligible if they have a house and a car.

But buying a house in China is not that easy these days, especially in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The skyrocketing property prices make it practically impossible for a young man to buy a place unless all his relatives scrape together their hard-earned savings to buy a small apartment. And after that he and his yet-to-be-born son would be paying off the mortgage, only to have the government reclaim it after 70 years. After all, the government owns all the land, not the people.

A friend told me about her friend in Guangzhou who has a rich girlfriend. He managed to get a good job, and in order to woo her, he bought two apartments, borrowing from friends and relatives. He hopes housing prices will continue to rise so that he can make a profit, but there are dark clouds looming over the possibility of the property market bubble bursting soon.

And that would put him in an even worse position than being a "house slave".

That's why others prefer to rent in order to have more freedom to travel or purchase whatever they want.

But even this carefree movement can't stop what's called the "bride's-mother economy".

Gu Yunchang, deputy director of the China Real Estate Research Association explains. "The couple is going to get married, but the man has not yet decided to buy a house. The fiancee's mother will ask the man for a 'discussion', after which the man will try his best to raise money, through ways ranging from selling stocks to pawning items."

It is this rigid demand, Gu says, that keeps the property market going, and more men becoming "house slaves".

Weddings in China are a big gold mine, as the China News Service reports a whopping 400 billion RMB ($58.8 billion), or 2.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product are spent on wedding-related items. Bear in mind that this could include the car and the house, not just the banquet, flowers and pictures.

Many men who know they hardly have a chance at the dating game are still hoping to find a non-materialistic girlfriend, usually women still living in the rural areas.

But single women like Zhu are still holding out. She said on If You Are The One, "I am genuine. I firmly believe that a rich man will marry me."

Perhaps materialistic women like Zhu will give up their marital dreams and instead pursue the chance to be a rich man's ernai, or mistress in order to get their hands on that house, car and 200,000RMB a month.

1 comment:

ks said...

it is sad this type of imperialist materialism is also invading china together with its progress the past 30 years.