Chinese flee from pushy parental matchmaking

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Parks in Chinese metropolises are perfect venues for pushy parents to hunt for a suitable spouse for their children who are too busy and slow in finding love.

But the Chinese young people now have "ever growing needs" and one of those needs is the need to avoid this kind of arranged marriage and choose their own partner. Happiness cannot be found through formulaic descriptions on A4 paper, occasionally laminated.

At matchmaking corners in parks, parents usually display a resume of their child, listing education, birth date, salary, job, housing and any details that might "help" their child.

Permanent residence or a house in a major city, overseas education or a car are seen as selling points and parents of such well-endowed candidates are much pickier.

Guo Yingguang, 35, has been filming a matchmaking corner in a park in Shanghai for two years. Her multi-media documentary "The Bliss of Conformity" won the China Women Photographers Award at last year's Jimei and Arles International Photo Festival.

In her work, Guo, single herself, looks beneath the seemingly peaceful surface of the match-making corner, and finds young people highly resistant of the way their parents behave.

"I was told that I am good-looking, but a little old," she said.

"Many young people don't actually know that their parents are arranging blind dates for them in the park," Guo said. "It is like they are being put on public display. The parents are very anxious."

Match-making produces some successful couples, but they are rarely sure whether the life they have chosen is the perfect one.

Fang Bin, in Shanghai, met his wife in 2010 at a blind date arranged by his parents. They are married now and raising a son. "I am lucky to find a wife of good temper, but we seldom have much freedom in choosing the way we live because we still count on parents to repay housing loans," Fang said.

Gu Huazeng, 65, found a spouse for her son at the park, but is reluctant to encourage others to follow suit. "It was more a matter of luck," she said.

"Even now they still have some troubles living together, and sometimes I ask myself 'Can I do everything for my son?' It's really hard to know," Gu said.

Zhong Wei, who has produced a blind dating TV show "Dating on Saturdays" for two decades, said that 70 percent of the 11,000 blind date participants they have followed are against parental interference in their marriage.

"Marriage has become more complicated as the idea of happiness in China is changing," said Zhang Zhenyu, a psychologist with East China Normal University. "The older generation regards 'hardware' such as housing and salary as important, while the younger generation values 'software' like love and common interests."

"I'm not against marriage, but against quantifying happiness with material goods . It's not that you have to marry someone at a certain age, or you are unhappy. People should be themselves and live the lives they want," said Guo, who's documentary won enormous support and more than 20,000 comments on Weibo, China's microblogging platform. 

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