|Participants of the 'love boat' matchmaking event are seen
inside a boat before it sets sail for a river cruise in Shanghai
November 25, 2006. [Reuters]|
Educated, overworked and looking for love, members of China's new rich
gathered for what was touted as the country's first dating cruise -- open
only to men worth at least 2 million yuan (US$250,000;
The cruise, organized Saturday by a matchmaking Web
site, illustrates a growing phenomena: Well-educated and increasingly
affluent young Chinese are having a hard time finding partners.
Xu Tianli, CEO of Web site www.915915.com.cn, said he staged the event
-- tickets for which cost 28,800 yuan (US$3,600; euro2,750) -- as a public
service for his site's members.
"We're the country with the world's biggest population, so marriage is
a serious concern, especially for wealthy men who don't have time to meet
anyone," Xu said.
Female participants had to be college educated and undergo a rigorous
screening process. Xu said
participants had been narrowed down from a list of 408 applicants, 119 of
The participants planned to pass the evening cruising the Huangpu River
aboard the Captain One, a faux
square rigger bedecked with
pink balloons and fairy lights hanging from its mast. With heavy rain
falling, it wasn't clear how many of the expected 50 attendees would show
Organizers refused to permit photographs or even interviews with
participants, although one man who signed up said he considered the idea
behind the cruise "extremely natural."
"This really is the most natural way to meet someone because everyone
is here for the same reason. Out in the world, you can't just walk up to
someone and ask if they're single," said the man, a manager in his late
30s who declined to give his name.
With young Chinese -- rich or not -- spending more time on work and
education and less on romance, demand is soaring for dating services and
other nontraditional matchmaking techniques.
Xu said his site's revenues rose 35 percent this year, although he gave
no figures. He said his members are 35 percent men, 65 percent women. The
site allows members to post photographs and brief introductions and also
counsels singles on how to find a match.
Lin Jingjing, a manager of another matchmaking site, www.Marry5.com,
based in the southern business hub of Guangzhou, said business is also
booming, but declined to give specifics.
"We've found that white-collar professionals aged 25 to 40 have the
toughest time of all finding a partner," said Lin.
"Most of them are highly educated, with a good jobs and salaries. But
they're too busy with work and their circle of friends and contacts is too
small. That's a big problem," Lin said.
Along with the Internet, less high-tech means are also being employed
to help couples pair up. In Beijing, Shanghai and other cities, parents
gather in parks armed with their children's photographs and resumes in
hopes of meeting another parent with a suitable match.