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Guangdong Has The 2nd Largest Population of “Leftover Women” in China

Posted: 11/17/2014 9:15 am

A woman reads single men’s profiles posted on a dating board.

Guangdong, the most populous Province in Southern China, is not only a draw for migrant workers; it also draws large numbers of single women. According to a list released by dating website,, Guangdong has the second largest population of “leftover women” in China, second only to Beijing. Single women aged 27+ are generally considered to be ‘leftover women”, while men aged 30+ are considered “leftover men”.

The dating site attributed the high numbers of single women to the Cities’ work pressures, fast pace and lifestyle: about 80 percent reported that their life revolved around going to work and returning home. About 30 percent said they had no time for a relationship.

According to the report, Henan is home to the highest rate of bachelors, or “leftover men”, with 74 percent. The Yangcheng Evening News cited another report, indicating that “leftover” men and women invariably work as journalists, lawyers or public relations professionals. Journalists account for almost 20 percent of the China’s total leftover population, followed closely by lawyers at 18 percent, the report said. Among leftover men, computer techs are most likely to have a hard time finding a partner because, “they are introverted and socially awkward”.

Photos: China Daily 



Hong Kong’s Gender Imbalance Leaving a Generation of Unmarried Women

Posted: 08/4/2014 11:09 am

Women browsing single men’s information displayed on a board in a dating event in Shanghai.

While China has a lopsided sex ratio of 1,176 men for every 1,000 women, an imbalance that could leave 24 million men without a wife by 2020, the country’s special administrative region of Hong Kong is having an equally confounding problem but in reverse: a surplus of unmarried women, the result of the city’s worst gender imbalance recorded in history according to the latest official government statistics.

In 1981, the city’s sex ratio was 1,087 men for  every 1,000 women. However, 33 years later, the gender imbalance has declined to 864 men for every 1,000 women, down from 876 men recorded in 2013. This is Hong Kong’s most imbalanced gender ratio since the city first started recording it in 1961.

According to Xinhua, there are two factors behind the problem. One is the influx of mainland women who generally hold a single-entry Hong Kong visa. The other is the mass of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, mostly women from Philippines and Indonesia. The population of domestic helpers in Hong Kong is estimated at more than 300,000, wrote The Diplomat.

Meanwhile, the pool of unmarried Hong Kong women aged 25 or above, or the so-called “leftover women”, is also growing. In the city’s central and western district, for instance, the number of unmarried women account for 33% of the district’s total population. In Shatin district alone, there are more than 90,000 unmarried women, according to the Xinhua report, citing official figures.

As a result, the ages for marrying and child-bearing have been pushed later and later. The average age for a woman to marry has moved from 23.9 years old in 1981 to 29.1 years old in 2013. Likewise, their child-bearing age has been postponed to 31.3 in 2013.

In addition, the plight of the city’s leftover women is worsening as more of the city’s men marry mainland women across the border. There could be many reasons for this, but popular belief in Hong Kong is that mainland women are, rightly or wrongly, viewed as more compliant than the stereotyped selective and picky Hong Kong women. In 2013, close to 20,000 Hong Kong men married mainland women.

Squeezed by the worsening gender imbalance in favour of men in the city, Hong Kong women are looking to the fuerdai, the second generation of rich, on the mainland for future partners.

Dating consulting agency personnel Ou Huifang said Hong Kong’s surplus women are “perfect matches” for the mainland’s surplus men. Mainland men in general favor Hong Kong, which means they will have an additional sense of accomplishment if they can marry a Hong Kong woman, Ou continued.

But so far, the cross-border dating experiences have been disappointing for Hong Kong women as they are far too independent to fit the traditional model for mainland men, which involves seeking a “virtuous wife and caring mother”, according to another Hong Kong-based dating agency. For now, most Hong Kong women will continue to be unmarried and lonely by choice, or increasingly, by default.

Photos: Daily Mail; Reuters


“The Incarnations” Is a Gripping Novel Set in China Packed with Historical Insight

Posted: 06/20/2014 3:06 pm

Literature is one of the few fields in which megalomania is a good thing. In fact, as Italo Calvino argued, without megalomania it is barely worthwhile.

Academic Alastair Macintosh claimed that the world is a ball of strings, including economics, ecology, theology and popular culture. Most non-fiction books about China written in English in recent years tend to be happy to pull at just one string. A novel by contrast can reasonably attempt to unravel the whole ball.

“The Incarnations” by Susan Barker is a radical and fascinating novel that makes a commendable fist of doing just this. Covering over a millennium of history and most of the major themes that are currently popular with China watchers, to work with such material would – in less capable hands – be as irresponsible as playing with a ouija board. But Susan Barker, a Creative Writing M.A. who researched the book over several years after moving to China in 2007, handles it with near flawless sensitivity and skill.

Wang Jun, a Beijing cab driver, starts receiving anonymous letters from someone who claims to have been close to him over several previous lives as well as his current one. Some letters display an intimate knowledge of Wang Jun’s far from perfect family life. Others tell stories about the narrator’s relationships with Wang Jun as he was everything from a slave of Mongol invaders in the thirteenth century to a foreigner during the Qing Dynasty.

The most extraordinary of the chapters set in the past takes place during the Tang Dynasty and would stand alone as a short story. Loaded with fascinating period details, it claims that Wang Jun became a eunuch after fathering the narrator and is one of the places in which Susan Barker’s flare as a prose stylist is truly successful. In one scene, a madam gives an inexperienced young prostitute the following advice:

Men have all sorts of peccadilloes…some men like to penetrate the red during a woman’s moon cycle, or piddle on a woman out of the jade watering spout. Some men like to poke a woman in the back passage, which is called pushing the boat upstream.

As fascinating as this is, the strongest part of the novel is that set in the Hu Jintao era. It paints a convincing picture of ordinary, downtrodden Beijingers as the new China prepares to celebrate its 2008 coming out party. Every character has a compelling and believable backstory and through them, Susan Barker shows a deep engagement with the major issues in modern China that have been written about over the past decade.

We first meet Wang Jun when he is delving through garbage (Adam Minter’s “Junkyard Planet”). Wang Jun’s wife points out that girls are less important in the eyes of their parents, therefore they are freer (Leslie Chang’s “Factory Girls”). Wang Jun’s colleague Baldy Zhang is an incurable misogynist (Leta Hong Fincher’s “Leftover Women“). Wang Jun’s father is a bent government official (Philip Pan’s “Out of Mao’s Shadow”). One of the major characters is an oppressed homosexual (Richard Burger’s “Behind the Red Door”).

Whether or not Susan Barker read all these books, it is clear that her knowledge of China was won rather than scavenged. One of the major themes is China’s selectiveness in what areas of its past it’s willing to face (Louisa Lim’s “The People’s Republic of Amnesia”), but this need not distract from the fact that, for all its erudition, “The Incarnations” is best enjoyed as a thriller.

Susan Barker is a brilliant prose stylist and this book should be read out loud. Even some of the most minor details are charged with social and historical insight, such as the items that Wang Jun finds as he rummages through garbage. The notoriously difficult sex scenes are also well done.

However, Barker’s stylistic brilliance is the source of the novel’s biggest weakness – overwriting. Some of the similes, which average more than one per page in some sections, fall flat, not sufficiently defying cliche to warrant inclusion. Children are “wrapped up like little eskimoes” in winter.

This indulgent use of dazzling writing can be unappealing, like a beauty queen whose knowledge of her own hotness is to the detriment of her likability (oops, an unnecessary simile). At times, the excessive scene setting distracts from the narrative and makes the book a bit too much like a Creative Writing PhD thesis (oh bugger, another one). At times, my enjoyment of the writing declined like Wang Jun’s marriage (that’s the last one, I promise).

Moreover, Barker doesn’t always follow the principle that adverbs are guilty until proven innocent, though there is one brilliant use of the word “unfilially” towards the end. The edition I received also contains some utterly avoidable errors, although it is a pre-release version that may change prior to printing. Wang Jun’s stepmother Lin Hong is twice referred to as “Ling Hong.” Changsha is described as Mao Zedong’s hometown. The word “drank” is mixed up with the word “drunk” and the word “wedding” is mixed up with the word “marriage.”

Most of the scene setting is excellent though, such as at the beginning when Barker introduces Beijing by describing some of the passengers Wang Jun has had over the years. “Incarnations” is a genuine page turner that brings it all together quite unlike any other book about China published in the past decade.

“Incarnations” will be released in hardback on July 3 and is available on Kindle.


Girl in Shenzhen “hires” BF for CNY, they end up actually liking each other

Posted: 02/25/2013 8:00 am

Chinese New Year is a very stressful time for many, especially young people who are reluctantly put through matchmaking activities by parents who fear that their children will be left on the shelf.

Many young people get round this by paying other single people to act as their boyfriend or girlfriend for the duration of the holiday. One 27 year-old woman in Shenzhen who tried to do this had a happier ending than anybody had even hoped for.

Miss Yuan, who lives in Huanggang Subdistrict in Longgang District, is now preparing to return to her native Hubei with her “boyfriend for hire” to buy a house together, Chutian Metropolis reported yesterday.

In early February Mr. Zhou, 32, received a message in one of his QQ groups that a man was offering to act as a boyfriend for hire for just 38 yuan on Chinese New Year. A bachelor, Zhou jokingly forwarded this to all of his contacts and all of his groups, pretending to offer his own services.

Yuan did not see Zhou’s proposition as a joke and was in fact so keen that she offered to add an extra ’0′ to the end of the asking price.

Although not convinced that she was being serious, Zhou started to chat with Yuan on QQ and they had something of a meeting of the minds which led to the exchange of phone numbers.

On the evening of February 7, Zhou had to face his parents in Huanggang and explain that he still didn’t have a girlfriend. His father’s scolding led him to promise that he would bring a girl home the following day.

The following afternoon, Zhou, a white collar worker who is based in Wuhan but whose parents live in Huanggang, called Yuan and invited her to his home. It turned out they lived less than an hour apart. On February 9, they met and immediately liked each other. Zhou’s parents were delighted to welcome a girl to their home and his mother pulled out all of the stops to make sure Yuan enjoyed the meal of her life.

That day, Yuan, who works as a tutor, had lied to her parents and told them she was just going to town to do some shopping. But upon returning home, she told her parents everything that had happened.

She told her parents that she wanted to be with Zhou and they respect her decision, Yuan told the paper. Now she is set to move to Hubei where they intend to buy a house together.

I suppose at their respective ages they can’t afford the luxury of taking it slowly.


University student becomes celebrity for marrying and having kids early

Posted: 07/16/2012 8:00 am

In many countries, such as the United States, getting married before graduating from college is fairly common. However, it is not common in China. The trajectory of life for most Chinese is finish school, then start working, then get married, then have babies.

But there are exceptions to every rule. A student at Sun Yat-sen University, Zeng Peilun, attended her graduation ceremony with her baby and husband, becoming a minor celebrity, according to Guangzhou Daily. After falling in love in her sophomore year and getting married in her junior year, Zeng would have graduated this year, but she had to put her studies on hold to give birth to her son.

“Why not marry while the flame is brightest,” she said. Zeng says marrying her husband, 18 years her senior, was an easy decision. She says her parents are very open-minded and supportive, allowing her to make whichever decisions make her happy. Talking about becoming a mother, Zeng said she finds it hard but worthwhile, “I appreciate my mother even more now.”

As for the gossip she is facing, as a student of media studies, Zeng says she understands and can handle it.

Many graduates even expressed envy toward Zeng: “We can’t judge this young mother, there’s no right or wrong, there’s only what’s good for the person making the choice. Let’s bless this courageous beautiful young mother”, said a former classmate.

According to China’s Marriage Law of 1980, the age at which Chinese can legally marry is 20 for women and 22 for men. Chinese women tend to be under severe pressure to marry before 30. Those who don’t are labelled leftover women.

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