Speed Dating Eclipses Parental Matches in China The tradition of parental matchmaking has endured for centuries. But now parents are being pushed aside. We examine the various new dating methods and meet some eligible singles along the way.
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Speed Dating Eclipses Parental Matches in China

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Speed Dating Eclipses Parental Matches in China

Speed Dating Eclipses Parental Matches in China

Speed Dating Eclipses Parental Matches in China

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/90222512/90222478" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The tradition of parental matchmaking has endured for centuries. But now parents are being pushed aside. We examine the various new dating methods and meet some eligible singles along the way.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Back now with Day to Day. In China, a year containing the number eight is said to bring great fortune. Many of China's singles and their parents are hoping they can tie the knot in lucky 2008. And that gives them 238 days.

ALEX COHEN, host:

Not a whole lot of time to find true love. That's why many Chinese are turning to dating websites, like Shugi Jaruen (ph). No, that's not Mandarin for match.com, it translates roughly as "century of wedding bliss." Reporter Jamila Trindle went where Chinese singles go to find a date.

(Soundbite of music)

JAMILA TRINDLE: Lots of singles in China are coming here to look for love. It's a hotel banquet room in the middle of a Sunday afternoon.

(Soundbite of music)

TRINDLE: And the modern musical chairs of speed dating.

Unidentified Woman: (Chinese spoken)

TRINDLE: What are you looking for?

Mr. ME JAN PING (Single Man): True love. Sincerely, true love.

TRINDLE: Can you find true love at this kind of event?

Mr. PING: Should be, because I found from many faces, they are all has the same idea as me.

TRINDLE: Me Jan Ping (ph), says he was divorced 15 years ago, and he's the oldest person in the room. He says it's hard in his day-to-day life to meet people, but here it's easy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TRINDLE: This event and ones like it across the country are organized by the Internet dating Website Shugi Jiuweb. Website founder Gon Han Yan (ph) says they have almost 12 million registered users, and two million lucky people have found that someone. She says that Internet dating is popular here because there is so many people on the move. People who move to the city and don't know anyone. Like Uagi Kei (ph), who calls himself "Simon." Why did you come here today?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. UAGI KEI (Single Man): To find a girlfriend.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TRINDLE: What kind of girlfriend?

Mr. KEI: She should be kind and a little beautiful, a little smart. That's all.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TRINDLE: "Simon" graduated from college and recently started a company. Now he wants to set up a life here in the city, far from where he grew up.

Mr. KEI: My parents and then my parents' parents are farmers. They didn't have no money, and income, annual income is about (unintelligible) yuan a year, a family, not for one person - a family. So, they're very poor.

TRINDLE: "Simon" says he was engaged once to a girl from home, but it didn't work out. Gon started the Website for people like "Simon" and herself, who can no longer rely on their parents to introduce them to someone.

Ms. GON HAN YAN (Website Founder): (Through Translator) If my parents introduced me, they could only introduce me to a peasant. Now after getting this high degree, I can't just go back and look for a peasant. Traditional channels, traditional tools all are ineffective.

TRINDLE: Effective or not, many parents aren't ready to give up their traditional role of helping their children find a husband or wife.

TRINDLE: Across town hundreds of parents are gathered in a park just outside the Forbidden City, networking with other parents to see if they can find a match for their sons or daughters. Many of whom don't even know they're here. Like Don Shu Fei's (ph) son.

Mr. DON SHU FEI: (Through Translator) No, he doesn't know.

TRINDLE: It's an informal gathering - here it's every Thursday and Sunday. But it's different in other parts and other cities. Beijingers talk in twos and threes and display placards that briefly describe their children. Male, 32, 1.68 meters tall. Female, 26, Beijing resident, 1.67 meters tall. One young woman sticks out in the crowd. Jan Jin Shin (ph), has come with her mother to see for herself, but she says there aren't many men here to choose from.

Ms. JAN JIN SHIN (Single Woman): (Through Translator) These are men who are well educated. I don't know where they've run off to, where are they?

(Soundbite of laughter)

TRINDLE: Jan has a graduate degree and according to tradition, has to marry up. That is, find a man who's better educated than she is, and makes more money. And she has to do it soon. She's 27 and says her mom has been worrying for a year already. She's looked online, but the prospects aren't much better. And she prefers meeting people like this. Face to face.

Ms. SHIN: (Through Translator): Because they're all families, they think they're all really genuine and they tell the truth. If you want to look online or some other way, there might be people that will cheat you. This way is much better.

TRINDLE: Many parents agree the Internet is the realm of liars and cheats. But they also admit that the success rate of their method is not very high. Li Shin Long (ph) says it's generational difference. That's why he's been coming here for a year and a half, and still hasn't found someone for his son.

Mr. LI SHIN LONG (Father of Single Man): (Through Translator) The times are different. Young people have a different character. For instance, I think a family looks good. I bring my son here, he looks and says it doesn't work, goodbye.

TRINDLE: Li says this generation's greater opportunities and better education means they are pickier about who they settle down with.

Mr. LONG: (Through Translator): When I got married I had only been to middle school. We were all like that. That was the Cultural Revolution. We weren't going to school. My requirements were a girl first, good health, ideology, character, morals - all important. For money, if we had enough to eat and drink, that was it.

TRINDLE: Now, people have very specific requirements, and Internet dating Websites that accommodate them. On Shugi Jiuweb you can search for people by height, age, monthly income, education level and whether they have a house or a car. But Gon Han Yan says it's partly because young people now don't have a social safety net.

Ms. YAN: (Through Translator) Sometimes I talk to young women and I say, why do you have these requirements for a high income? And they say they fear that in the future, if they have a child and they don't have money, they won't be able to give them the best education.

(Soundbite of music)

TRINDLE: Yet, even with everyone's higher expectations, the Internet appears to be the best bet. Shugi Jiuweb's website is covered with wedding pictures of couples that met on the site or at their events. And thousands more are signing up every day, for the chance to find their match.

Unidentified Man: I would like to find a girl that understand me, so I (unintelligible). I've no money, but in the future, maybe I will be richer.

TRINDLE: For NPR News, I'm Jamila Trindle in Beijing.

COHEN: Day to Day is a production of NPR News, with contributions from Slate.com. I'm Alex Cohen.

BRAND: And I'm Madeleine Brand.

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