--- SEARCH ---
Learning Chinese
Learn to Cook Chinese Dishes
Exchange Rates

Hot Links
China Development Gateway
Chinese Embassies

Long Road to True Love for China's Senior Citizens
With her self-dyed black hair and sporting a ring, the newly wed Ruan Yonglan in Hefei city, capital of east China's Anhui province, looks 20 years younger than she really is.

Ruan, 83, who married last week, said her man "is a good-hearted and educated man, and he is very kind to me."

Like Ruan, a growing number of widows and widowers in China are challenging the traditional ideas that discourage single senior citizens from looking for partners.

Chinese law prohibits people, particularly the children of the senior citizens, to interfere senior citizens' marriage plans, but old ways die hard.

The bridegroom, Gu Jingqing, from Nanjing city, capital of neighboring Jiangsu province, told Xinhua that Ruan was the right woman for him.

Gu, six years younger than his wife, said, "She is much older than me, but is quite fit, humorous. She has given me a lot of happiness."

The marriage is the third for Ruan, who was given away by her parents the day she was born into a poverty-stricken rural family.

She later married at the age of 18 and has four sons and a daughter from the marriage.

She said her first husband died when her five children were still young.

Ruan did not consider getting remarried for many years as, according to China's traditional thinking, women of integrity are supposed to defend their chastity and remain loyal to their men, dead or alive, for life.

In addition, the children of senior citizens used to consider it shameful for their parents to remarry or they opposed remarriage fearing the loss of their inheritance.

But it was too difficult for Ruan to raise five kids on her own, and she later remarried to a man in Hefei. He died in 1991.

Since then, she has lived peacefully and quietly, but felt something was missing in her life.

"I'm getting old, and I have been well taken care of by my children, but sometimes I felt a bit lonely.

"The sight of single old people getting remarried on TV programs prompted me to do something for myself.

"With the help of my brother's wife, I decided to look for my better half through a local match-making agency, known as 'Bridge of Love', in February last year."

Song Hui, a psychological consultant with the agency, said he and his colleagues appreciated Yuan's courage at first, but had little hope of successfully finding her match.

Ruan attracted the attention of local media as she was then the oldest woman seeking remarriage publicly.

A reporter with Jianghuan Morning Post who covered Ruan's efforts to get remarried said, "We want to tell our readers that single senior citizens should be encouraged to look for happiness, and remarriage is by no means shameful".

The response from readership encouraged Ruan, she said. Soon afterwards, an 80-year-old reader in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and another reader of similar age in Jiangsu province responded with passionate letters.

Zhong Guifa, an 84-year-old man from the outlying Guizhou province in southwest China, came to Hefei to meet Ruan last year, but it was Gu who eventually won the heart of Ruan.

Ruan's courage and success had encouraged dozens of single senior residents, said Song.

About 100 single people aged 60 or above had registered in a bid to seek love, many more than the same period last year, and one third had found love or married, she said.

But not everybody approved of Ruan's efforts.

Wang Jun, one of the daughters-in-law of Ruan, said, "A few neighbors have said some really offensive things about the marriage."

Ruan dismissed the gossips, "What is important for me is to live a better life, and I think they may change their minds and envy me."

Wang Fang, her granddaughter, has thrown her support behind her grandmother.

During the past year, she accompanied Ruan on dates in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang province, and Chongqing Municipality in southwest China for TV interviews.

There are now about 45 million widows or widowers aged 60 or above in China, which has 120 million senior citizens.

Prof. Wang Banghu, a prestigious sociologist with Anhui University, noted that the growing tolerance of marriage of senior citizens indicated significant progress by the whole society in safeguarding individual rights.

(Xinhua News Agency December 4, 2002)

Choosing a Mate Changing
The Changing Attitudes and Values in the New China
Obstacles Block Senior Citizens' Second Marriage
Print This Page
Email This Page
About Us SiteMap Feedback
Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-68326688