We know the Chinese as cunning entrepreneurs who have gone from rags to multi-million riches through their natural ability to profit from anything. But if there’s one thing the Chinese can’t seem to succeed in selling, it’s their own children at Shanghai’s Marriage Market.
A low-tech version of the online dating website, the Marriage Market was set up by desperate Chinese parents whose 20 to 30-something children are still romantically untied. Having lived under China’s one-child policy, these concerned retirees are distressed about their only child’s capacity to make his or own family, which according to their opinion, is essential for a happy and content life (though some, of course, are more concerned about getting grandchildren). So what they do is this: on a piece of paper, they write their child’s name, age, height, horoscope, job, salary, education—anything that can grab a potential soulmate’s attention—and post it among the thousands of other ads in People’s Square in Shanghai.
The place has been described as “busier than a wet market”. But despite the fact that the Marriage Market attracts hundreds of people, the chances of actually finding a successful match is desperately slim. Add to that the high demands of parents who desire the richest and handsomest men for their grown-up girls who are successful in their careers as well as the demands of older men to marry young, pretty girls who aren’t more successful than themselves. Some of the men and women who got faces posted up by their parents didn’t even want to be advertised in the first place. To some, their career is a more important priority at their current age than settling down. Explaining that to their mothers is a different story.