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Overseas Marriages Up Seven Times in Shanghai
The number of international marriages in Shanghai has increased to almost seven times the figure from 1980, according to a local study.

A study jointly conducted since last year by the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau and East China Normal University showed that the number of locally registered international marriages - referring to Shanghai people marrying foreigners or non-mainland Chinese - has jumped from fewer than 400 in 1980 to 2,705 last year.

Ding Jinhong - director of the university's Population Research Institute, a major participant in the year-long study - said: "The increase (of international marriages) on the whole ties in well with Shanghai's continuous opening-up to the outside world, as well as with increasing cross-cultural communication."

In a report published in late May, the study authors said more than 40 percent of the 21,015 mixed marriages registered in the city between 1996 and 2002. Japanese made up for about 40 percent overall, overseas Chinese and those from Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan made up for nearly 38 percent, while people from the United States accounted for 6.3 percent, Australians for 5.4 percent and Europeans for 3.9 percent.

Nearly 89 percent of international marriages in Shanghai between 1996 and 2002 involved local women whose average age was 31 years.

The average age of the more than 2,330 local men involved in the international marriages between 1996 and 2002 was 36.7 years.

About 24 percent of the local wives had had a college education, compared with nearly 48 percent of their overseas husbands.

Some locals seem to attach little importance to such differences with their overseas spouses, according to Ding.

The desire for economic gain or the ability to go abroad is sometimes more of a factor than any real love and mutual understanding, he said.

"I would say such 'loveless' marriages still exist here to a substantial extent, though the number is on the decline," said Ding.

However, Shanghai people overall have adopted a more "rational" attitude towards such international marriages, said officials of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

Jacqueline Zhou, a local company executive who married her French husband four years ago, said: "I don't think a marriage without love can last long... Personally, though I didn't expect to marry a foreigner at all, we have been just fine, and even my view of Westerners has changed a lot due to our marriage."

(China Daily June 9, 2003)

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