China’s “Comfort Class” | The Bling Dynasty, National Geographic Magazine: Juedui Singles Event | Beijing, China

Singles try to find each other at an event at amusement park sponsored by a web site ( that caters to Chinese singles. The web pages of prospective Chinese partners hang all over the walls and trees and there are so many that they have to be changed every few hours. Julie, the president of the company, says that she counsels folks about going for love over stability but no one listens. She says they all want to find someone with a good job, a house, and a car before worrying about loving them or not. Even with this counseling, there is a surreal scene where young singles get up on an AstroTurf stage and recite their particulars: My name is John, I am 28 years old and I have a condo with two bedrooms. I make X amount of money a year, and I have a 2006 Volkswagen golf with a garage.

One surreal scene from this event was a woman who wandered in talking on TWO cell phones, going back and forth to the people who were patiently dealing with her divided attention. She looked at a couple of placards and then kept moving. She was just way too busy for finding love. “Society is changing very fast,” observed Gong Hai Yan, founder and chief executive of, one of China’s early dating Web sites. “Young people are moving to the big cities, but they don’t have friends and family living there.” The Internet dating and “friend-making” industry in China is forecast to be a $80 million industry by next year, according to Shanghai-based iResearch. And when it comes to love, the Chinese are ardent consumers.

“The Chinese younger generation are more independent,” said Aiguo Fan, general secretary of the China Marriage and Family Institute. “They don’t rely on their parents as they did before.”

Eager May Yao admits she’s “very picky. I want to find a boy who has as good a career as me. But I can’t find too many boys like that,” she said.

Yao also wants someone with whom she can communicate. She thinks she may have found her match through, which suggests possible dates based on personality tests and, for those willing to pay fees ranging from $480 to nearly $900 a year, offers love counselors to help with the search. Baihe, which means flower lily, the symbol for 100 years of a good marriage, has about 8 million registered users. The Web site markets itself particularly to women, who are more apt to pay for the additional matchmaking help.

In rural China, for every 100 females, there are 117 males, a skewed ratio caused in part by China’s one-child policy and the desire of couples to have a boy over a girl. But those female advantages don’t play out in the large cities. One reason is that even as women become more educated and professionally successful, tradition still dictates they marry up. Ideal husbands need to have more prestigious résumés and heftier bank accounts, making their selection even more selective.

And while it is becoming more acceptable for women in cities like Beijing and Shanghai to wait longer to marry—from an average marrying age of 23 during the 1980s to 27 now —they still stampede to get hitched before 30.

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