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LIVING IN CHINA

Market Values (Paywalled)

Even Chinese parents find matchmaking corners embarrassing, though a “necessary evil”

“Lots of media have been coming here,” says Mr. Zhu, a father in his 60s who regularly attends Beijing’s Zhongshan Park matchmaking corner with his 30-year-old daughter. “Around 2 or 3 p.m. is usually when the crowds come,” his daughter, Ms. Zhu, adds. It is 1:30 p.m. when TWOC visits, yet there is already a line jostling to look at prospective dates.

The ancient art of xiangqin (相亲, matchmaking) is back in the news, following reports last week on the growing materialism, superstition, and parental entitlement on display at China’s infamous public “marriage markets” (相亲角, literally “matchmaking corner”). After Phoenix Weekly and the Beijing Evening News profiled the markets, last Wednesday, Chinese media pounced on the opportunity to criticize the traditional views of marriage in modern China.

The surge in interest has irritated regulars. “Don’t take any pictures; especially don’t take any pictures of the names [and CVs] on the ground,” a woman surnamed Meng warned us as she passed. “Do it, and the old ladies will surround you–they’ll run you off. They’re afraid of people selling that information.” But Ms. Zhu believes that some are simply embarrassed about being seen. “Young people do come, but they come with the market’s about to close, at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m.; they’re a little self-conscious.”

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Market Values (Paywalled) is a story from our issue, “Disaster Warning.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.

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Will Gardner is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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