Learning Chinese: Maidens for millionaires

Source:Globaltimes.cn Published: 2012-7-2 17:27:45


Women wait to be examined during a matchmaking event for millionaires in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, June 24, 2012. Photo: Lin Meilian/GT
Women wait to be examined during a matchmaking event for millionaires in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, June 24, 2012. Photo: Lin Meilian/GT

They say you cannot put a price on love. But some mysterious Chinese multi-millionaires are trying to prove the old saying wrong.

On the fourth floor of a shopping mall in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, a live Chinese version of The Batchelor is taking place. But the mystery wife-seekers at the heart of the show have chosen not to reveal their identities. Instead, 7,200 women from all across the country are battling for the heart of the 25 mystery mega-rich men.

Such matchmaking events for the rich have been very popular since 2003 when a billionaire posted a newspaper ad looking for a wife. But one 30-year-old woman dawdling outside the mall in Shenzhen, who only gave her family name, Ding, told the Global Times that she has some doubts about the whole project.

"I am afraid people come here to play games or just hook up, they don't take it seriously and sincerely," she said.

But she isn't taking it that seriously either. She said she has a boyfriend already but she is not sure he is the one. She is willing to give the mega-rich a shot.

Some 100 women will be selected from these candidates and their profiles would be viewed by the billionaires. Then 28 of them will participate in a final two-day party held in a luxury hotel this month.

"I don't have any expectations. I only see it as a chance to get to know people," she said.

Such matchmaking events have outraged many people who believe marriage shouldn't be about money. But the organizer has his own explanations.

"We are just like head hunters. High-end talented people don't usually come to you, you have to go and hunt them," Cheng Yongsheng, CEO of the China Single Entrepreneur Club which organized the competition, told the Global Times.

"The higher the divorce rate gets, the bigger the market grows," he continued, "so the rich need a high-end agency like us to represent them and find the right person."

Cattle market

The contestants and multi-millionaires are matched like breeding stock. She should be aged between 20-35, 160-175 centimeters tall, well-educated, beautiful, smart and have a positive view of marriage. And it would be better if she had a "pure body," meaning no sexual experience. That controversial requirement was removed later. The organizers insisted that it is some client's specific requirement, and nothing personal.

The prospective husbands, on the other hand, are under 50, divorced or single, have over 100 million yuan ($15.7 million), and are the presidents or general managers of large companies.

China has 960,000 people with personal assets of 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) in 2011, according to the Hurun Research Institute, which compiles China's rich list.

The youngest and most handsome entrepreneur, who identified himself as David, 27, wants to find a wife who has a baby face, killer body, and the brain of Melinda Gates, according to the organizer.

The shows held in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen have attracted over 7,000 candidates, from 18 to 45 years old, and from pageant winner to office workers. They were judged by a panel of judges who assess them according to their appearance, psychology, ability to manage money and their views on marriage.

First came the "image consultants." Zhao Chenggang, the judge and head of New Era Cosmetic Surgery Hospital, told the Global Times that at least 60 percent of candidates were kicked out at the first round.

One candidate was kicked out because she wore no make-up and looked too causal. Another good-looking candidate followed was kicked out too because she had visible plastic surgery.

"Successful men do care about their wife's appearance, I have to read her face to tell if she has had bad plastic surgery or her face might cause bad luck to her future husband," he said.

Then came the "psychological experts" to grill the girls. The last round was an interview with relationship and marriage consultants.

One 27-year-old candidate from Anhui Province who made it to the last round seems confident of winning the heart of a multi-millionaire.

She said her only concern is if he has kids from a previous marriage. "In that case the child has to live separately," she said.

Qi Jia, 28, a relationship and marriage consultant told the Global Times that a successful businessman is like anyone else; he wants a wife who can take good care of his family and himself.

"There is no doubt that money is the safety net of a family, but I have to make sure these women don't put money before their marriage," she said.

Love and lies

Many candidates said they're after a better life and don't only worship money. But they reportedly lie about their past relationships, boast about their family background or bribe the judges. A polygraph, a long-discredited "lie machine," was used at the show in Shanghai.

"If a candidate tells you that all she wants is a nice man, you know that she is lying. Nice men are everywhere, what brings you here?" Qi asked.

To further find out if the candidates are lying, they will later visit the finalists' families and their workplaces to talk to their parents and co-workers.

To improve their chances of finding the perfect candidates, matchmakers decided to set up a "Talent Scout Award." Anyone can recommend a girl to the dating service. If she gets invited on a first date, they get a 50,000 yuan ($7,882) commission. If she becomes the lucky wife of a multi-millionaire, the person who recommended her will get a 3 million yuan ($473,000) apartment as a prize.

Disappointedly, those mysterious multi-millionaires were nowhere to be seen. The organizer said they would show up at the final party. But some wondered whether the whole event was a sham.

"I am disappointed not being able to see any of them here," a candidate said," I don't know if the whole thing is a just a trick."

A divorced millionaire from Zhejiang Province, who only gave his family name as Zheng, told the Global Times that many of his rich friends actually prefer to find wives by themselves.

"I don't know how long the marriage could last if I found a wife in this way," he said. "Moreover, it is a private matter, I don't want a third party to get involved."

"They take advantage of women's rush to get married to increase membership, but they also promote their company and make money through the matchmaking events," Gong Haiyan, founder of China's largest dating website, told the Global Times.

Mounting pressure

Whenever she sees a married woman, the 28-year-old Wang from Henan Province asks her "How could you manage to get married?"

Being females, over 27 and unmarried in China makes you a "leftover woman," according to surveys by the All-China Women's Federation. Wang spend most of her monthly salary on online matchmaking sites.

A few weeks ago, she got a call from the organizers who asked her to come to this event. She wondered how they got her number, but she agreed to come.

"More than 90 percent of Chinese men surveyed said women should marry before 27 to avoid becoming 'unwanted.' I am 28, I am one of the unwanted women," she said. She dressed up for the event: an elegant lace white dress with pink high heels.

A candidate surnamed Ma, 28, voiced the same concerns. "I am not too picky; I am just waiting for the right man." Afraid of being labeled materialistic, she did not tell any of her friends and family about the matchmaking event.

The mounting pressure of marrying well has created a huge business opportunity for matchmaking services. The club, founded in January this year, has already had 25 high-end clients. Each of them has to pay 200,000 in annual fees. Cheng, the club's CEO, said the success rate is about 50 percent.

"The point is to attract leftover women to come," said Cheng, "since many are too shy to come out and meet men."

Other online matchmaking website staff were waiting outside the event, handing out business cards to those candidates.

The event was not without critics. Gu Jun, a professor at Shanghai University, said it was like the emperor choosing his concubines in pre-modern China. "Obviously they don't respect women and are challenging society's values," she added.

Some women fight back. Some 36 super-rich businesswomen from Sichuan Province launched a nationwide campaign to find husbands on June 25, which has attracted about 2,000 male candidates, according to Sichuan-based Tianfu Morning Post.

Chinese you need:

Multi-millionaire千万富翁 (qiān wàn fù wēng)
Identity身份 (shēn fèn)
Candidate候选人 (hòu xuǎn rén)
Luxury豪华 (háo huá)
Prospective预期的 (yù qī de)
Asset资产 (zī chǎn)
Assess评估 (píng gū)
Plastic surgery整形手术 (zhěng xíng shǒu shù)
Worship崇拜 (chóng bài)

Boast吹嘘 (chuī xū)
Bribe行贿 (xíng huì)
Matchmaker媒人 (méi rén)
Leftover woman剩女 (shèng nǚ)
Elegant优雅的 (yōu yǎ de)
Shy害羞的 (hài xiū de)

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