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A Wedding, for What It's Worth
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A few quick questions for the eligible bachelors of China: Are the pressures of life proving too great a burden? Seeking a quick buck and want to pick up a wife in the process?


If the answer is "yes" to the above queries, you may be one of an increasing number of young men willing to forgo true love for a rich bride.


Luckily for them, some families are eager for their daughters to nab a dapper stag who can also keep their businesses running smoothly.


And there are now agencies that can make the dreams of capable single men and families seeking suitable son-in-laws come true.


Established in 1999, the Xiaoshan Golden Idea Matrimonial Agency in Xiaoshan of Zhejiang Province has been quite successful in helping affluent families find the "right guy".


Hundreds of candidates, aged between 23 and 55, have registered with the company.


"On average we receive over 20 inquiries every day," said 51-year-old Li Jiyan, director of the company, which has helped settle more than 300 marriages over the past eight years.


The files of "love seekers" on his desk stack up almost a meter in height. Li said about 80 percent of the candidates are migrant workers from other parts of the country. Some are well-educated, holding a bachelor's degree or higher from domestic or overseas universities.


"No man is willing to marry into a bride's family if the family property is lower than 2 million yuan ($250,000)," Li said.


A building in Beijing shows advertisements for beauty treatment and plastic surgery. The beauty business has flourished in China in recent years.




Since China's opening and reform in the early 1980s, Zhejiang Province has experienced phenomenal economic growth, with many private companies springing up in cities like Xiaoshan, Yiwu and Wenzhou. Such prosperity has generated a great number of wealthy families and independent millionaires in the area.


However, some of these families only have one daughter, due to China's One-Child Policy. Traditionally, Chinese families expect the male members to carry on the family business. Therefore, finding a suitable son-in-law.


For a man, marrying into the bride's family meant that he'd become a "dao cha men", a son-in-law living off his wife's family who is obliged to look after the wife's parents until they pass away. Traditionally, only orphans and men from poor families would consider this option. In return, their offspring would have to take the wife's family name.


Back in the 1980s, the bride's family often presented a motorbike as a betrothal present for the bridegroom. Today a new car is the gift of choice.


Li recalled that a university student surnamed Lou came to his office asking for the hand of a rich girl but no one worth less than 10 million yuan ($1.25 million).


"The pressure for men to be successful at work is getting more intense in China. An average worker would probably find it hard to buy a house or a car without his parents' support. I therefore provide a platform for these people to find love, and live comfortably too," Li said.


Among the candidates, some young men come from better-off families, and want to marry into a rich family because it is a "rational choice" for their careers and positions in society.


When asked if the divorce rate is high in such arrangements, Li said that most of the couples he knew had no problem with their marriages.


A young man surnamed Chen from the Jiangxi Province which neighbors Zhejiang married into a Xiaoshan family in 1998. The 36-year-old has become a senior executive officer for one of the biggest private companies in Xiaoshan.


Chen said he perfectly understands those who are eager to marry into wealth. Some want to start their own business in the future, others simply seek a comfortable life. "However, I am an exception," Chen claimed.


The truth is his wife's family is not rich at all.


"The only reason I married her is because I love her. As an open-minded intellectual, I do not care about whether my child takes after my surname or not," he added.


Chen said that unlike him, most men who marry into rich families do not live happily.


"Their status is quite low in the family. Nobody listens to them. They have to bear the contempt from the elders. If a man has a university education background, he will be fine; if not, especially if he is not capable of doing anything, his life will be miserable," Chen added.


Last year, a local court in Guali County of Xiaoshan dealt with more than 20 divorce cases from such families, most men have had to leave the district where their former wives' families live, the Southern Weekly reported. 


(China Daily March 6, 2007) 

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