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Love Knows No Nationality in Shanghai
Yao Tinglai, a resident of Shanghai, is no longer embarrassed or felt uneasy that his daughter married an American boy but is itching to chat in his broken English with new son-in-law Daniel.

"Even though we have different cultural backgrounds and living habits, we can still find many topics of interest in common," said Yao, who is now busy brushing up English with his wife.

Currently, Shanghai boasts three international marriages like Daniel's for every 100 newly-wedded couples, the highest rate in the country.

According to a survey conducted jointly by the East China Normal University (ECNU) and the municipal civil affairs bureau, Shanghai registered more than 21,000 international marriages from 1996 to 2002, or an average of 3,000 mixed couples a year in the past seven years, a rise of over 700 percent over the figure for 1980.

Statistics show that Shanghai recorded a fast growth in mixed marriages from 1981 to 1985, with the annual number rising from 396 to 826.

Zhou Shaoyun, an official with the municipal civil affairs bureau, believed the rapid increase at the beginning of the 1980s was mainly attributed to the country's newly-implemented policy of opening to the outside world.

Many international marriages then were composed of female natives and male foreigners, as some women then hoped to improve their living standards by marrying foreigners, Zhou said.

Nevertheless, quite a few such marriages were split and ruined afterwards because of diversities in age, educational level and language. Most registered for marriage right after they got to know each other, foreshadowing a crisis due to the lack of a love basis.

After 1985, a great deal of foreign capital flooded into east China's commercial hub with more and more overseas employees sent to work here, contributing to more opportunities for the mutual communication and understanding of Shanghai natives and foreigners.   

This resulted in rapid growth in the number of international marriages in Shanghai after 1989, said Zhou, adding that the marriage quality was also enhanced.

And there were less disparities in culture, better language communication ability and more time to get along with each other before marriage.

According to the survey, about 300 Shanghai males marry foreign brides each year.

Many mixed couples preferred to live in Shanghai instead of going abroad to settle, once a popular trend for international marriages.

This indicated that money, nationality and other non-emotional factors were less important, and international partners held more rational attitudes toward their marriages, said Ding Jinhong, head of the population research institute of ECNU.

The fast economic, cultural and social progress in Shanghai over the past decade also made the metropolis more attractive to transnational lovers, Ding said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2003)

Overseas Marriages Up Seven Times in Shanghai
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International Marriages Popular in Shanghai
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