An increasing number of Hong Kong women, especially single young white-collar workers, are looking across the border to search for future husbands, the Southern Metropolis Daily said Sunday.
The Hong Kong statistics department revealed earlier this month that one out of five women about the age to marry in the territory have to look elsewhere to find a husband, because of the disproportionate number of men and women. In 2003, 2,400 Hong Kong women registered marriages with mainlanders. The figure tripled to reach 6,483 last year.
The long tradition that Hong Kong people find spouses across the border has thrived with the closer ties forming between the region and mainland cities since 1997. Last year, a total of 24,000 such cross-border marriages were registered.
The story began with middle-aged blue-collar workers, like container truck drivers and pier laborers, who could not find a wife in Hong Kong. Their salaries, low compared to professionals in Hong Kong, were quite competitive with mainlanders 15 years ago. Many of them, already in their 40s, found wives in their 20s across the border. Some married men even found "concubines" in Pearl River Delta cities. Though some women acquired permanent Hong Kong residency through marriage, such kind of relations often ended in divorce because of the age differences and respective intentions.
A Luohu matchmaking agency also noted the recent trend of more Hong Kong women hoping to find mainland husbands.
Statistics revealed that only 675 Hong Kong women married mainland men in 1986. The figure rose to 6,483 last year.
"This year, 28 Hong Kong women have registered as members," said a woman surnamed Hu at a Shenzhen matchmaking agency. "Half of them have never married before, and the youngest is a social worker aged 28. She is quite pretty."
Hong Kong women are turning northward for husbands because there are not enough candidates in the territory. Statistics revealed that 18,000 out of 50,300 Hong Kong bridegrooms married mainland brides last year, while another 10,000 single men applied for an "unmarried certificate," which is often used to register a marriage elsewhere.
Over the past 20 years, the disparity between the number of each sex has widened in the territory. In 1981, there were 1,087 men to every 1,000 women, which dropped to 929 men to 1,000 woman last year. The disparity is especially severe in the 25 to 40 age group, and media estimates that by 2036, there would be five unmarried Hong Kong women for every three men if the trend continues.
Hong Kong women, stereotyped as independent, well-educated, and earning a high income, are not easy to court, the report said. Some Hong Kong parents are already registering their daughters for dating events in Shenzhen.
Feng Xinghong, a Hong Kong statistics official, however, reassured its citizens that as long as the territory remains an attractive international metropolis, chances abound for single women to get acquainted with mainland and overseas people who work or even migrate to Hong Kong.
"Between 20 to 30 percent of our women members said they don't mind marrying mainland men," said Liu Meiru, a Hong Kong dating agent.
(Shenzhen Daily July 30, 2007)