When the cosmetics company that employs Carefree Zhang started working with a marketing research firm, it boosted sales, the 25-year-old met her future husband and the happy couple did their bit to kill a few outdated myths about cross-cultural relationships in China.
Zhang began dating the consulting firm's 27-year-old American manager - whose name she doesn't want mentioned because they are keeping the relationship secret from co-workers.
"We found we have common interests in various fields and we can communicate well with each other using a combination of English and Chinese," said Zhang.
They plan to develop their careers in Shanghai and may marry in the near future.
Zhang's case is typical for the majority of local youths involved in cross-nation marriage nowadays, said Zhou Jixiang, director of the Marriage Administrative Section of Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.
Of the 1,300 locals that registered for marriage with foreign citizens during the first half of this year, some 80 percent of the couples share similar educational background and can communicate with each other in the other's language, according to the department.
The majority of couples have an age difference of less than five years.
"The majority of marriages still involve a Shanghai woman with an overseas citizen, but it seems that local women do not marry solely for the purpose of going abroad as before," said Zhou.
In the past, local women that dated foreign men were often accused of being more interested in getting an oversees passport than finding true love.
While that criticism hasn't totally disappeared, Shanghai's growing affluence has changed the way many people look at cross-cultural relationships.
"Now, most locals do not think it is worth sacrificing marriage to go abroad as they can enjoy a modern life right here at home." said Zhou.
This new attitude has been met by a growing number of overseas marriages, according to Zhou.
The number of overseas marriage increased from 1,384 in 1998 to 3,400 last year.
"That's because more and more foreigners came to work in the city," added Zhang.
Scott Smiley, 28, from United States, who met and married 32-year-old Lu Xiangjun,said:
"We met at a party when I first came to Shanghai and now I work in my wife's travel agency."
(eastday.com July 05, 2002)