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Parents Playing Matchmaker for Unmarried Children
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Chinese singles over 25 years old are a constant topic of conversation for those in society still fixated on traditional values, particularly their parents, who constantly worry about their futures. From June 2 to 3, over 1,500 parents were drawn to so-called "Parents' Matchmaking Gathering" in Beihai Park, Beijing, sponsored by Marriage & Family magazine of the All China Women's Federation.

During the gathering, thousands of young singles' personal information was registered and the parents exchanged messages about their unmarried children with each other. The hustle and bustle gave off the atmosphere of a large recruitment meeting rather than romance.

Most parents brought information about their children that they thought might attract others' attentions, such as pink plastic covered resumes, photos, and Xerox copies of award certificates or diplomas. "Do you have a boy or girl" was the most frequently used way of striking up a conversation among the parents who met one another for the first time.

A lady surnamed Liu revealed that this was the fourth time she had taken part in such a gathering to look for a prospective wife for her son. The first time, she did not feel at ease nor did she know what to do. This time, she thought she had enough experience and a good idea of the appropriate procedure.

When meeting a parent seemingly of her age, she would say hello, then ask if he or she has a boy or girl. If the answer is a girl, she would inquire how old the girl is. Realizing the girl's age is suitable for her son's, she would give a brief introduction of her son, including his height, academic background, current job, and family, and the other parent would talk about his or her girl. If both sides think each other's child may be a possible son- or daughter-in-law, they would exchange their phone numbers.

Ms. Liu said, "Usually if we find a match for our children, we would tell them that one of our colleagues or relatives has recommended this girl or boy and ask them to meet him or her. We would rather not tell them we know this boy or girl from his or her parents in a park, whom we have never met before."

She also said parents often participate in this kind of gathering without telling their children to avoid making them feel embarrassed. "If they know, they will strongly object to our suggestion and never meet the girl or boy that we recommend," she sighed.

Besides a large number of parents, a lot of young people also came to the matchmaking gathering accompanying their parents or friends. The moment they appeared, parents besieged them, inquiring about their backgrounds, telling them about their own children and even asking for a date for their children.

During the two-day gathering, over one thousand young people actively participated in a game called "Making Friends in Eight Minutes." Watched by hundreds of pairs of curious eyes, a lot of shy would-be matches retired while others seemed to remain at ease. It was rumored among participants that several couples came together after playing the game.

According to the sponsors, most of the singles whose personal information was registered are 26 to 40 years old and females account for about 60 percent. They mostly have an education degree above junior college level. Many of them have experience studying abroad and hold a Master degree. Most of them work in foreign companies or highly paid industries such as IT.

There are two basic categories into which the registered singles can be divided. The first is the group of those who are over 30 years old and considered past the golden age for marriage. Because of the pressures from work and study, not to mention high standards for spouses, they have remained unmarried.

The other type is those who are 25 or 26 years old and at the age traditionally seen as ideal for marriage. But parents are worried that their children may not seize chances of finding a suitable spouse and also want to learn about the unmarried group by joining in the gathering.

( by Pang Li, June 7, 2007)

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