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May 25, 2014

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Love fails to blossom at dating expo

LIKE most of the men attending the fifth annual Shanghai Love and Marriage Fair in Qingpu District yesterday, Zhang Yisheng was looking for a soulmate.

Unlike other suitors, however, the septuagenarian was in search not of a woman, but of a kind and loving man ... for his granddaughter.

The apple of Zhang’s eye is a 30-something professional who after studying in Germany returned home to China to work for a Fortune 500 company. Zhang told Shanghai Daily his granddaughter had no idea he was trying to find her a husband.

“If she’d known what I was doing she might have tried to stop me,” Zhang said.

“But I thought that if I could identify some guys she might like I could save her some time. Then she could arrange to meet the ones she was attracted to and see how it goes.”

For the first time this year, the “matchmaking expo” had a special area for overseas returnees.

Unfortunately for Zhang, few of the adverts for single men had sufficient information to be of any real use.

“Most of the profiles were incomplete, with things like mobile numbers missing,” Zhang said.

“I was told that if I wanted to see the full profiles, I’d have to pay a fee to a matchmaking agency.”

Zhang was not alone in his complaint. A mother said she was told she would have to pay between 10,000 yuan (US$1,600) and 20,000 yuan to an agency if she wanted to see more details about the men she was interested in for her daughter.

Another mom, surnamed Liu, said she too was disappointed at the lack of worthwhile information available.

“Hardly any of the profiles have a mobile phone number, and we really don’t know if the information is real or fake,” she said.

“All I do know is that I don’t trust agencies.”

Liu said she once paid more than 4,000 yuan to a matchmaking agency to help find a partner for her 36-year-old daughter. But after several unsuccessful meetings, she was told there was no-one suitable.

“In the end the agency told me that love is about yuanfen (fate), and that they couldn’t help.”

Several parents told Shanghai Daily they thought the matchmaking event was little more than a scam to make money for dating agencies.

“It’s just one big advertisement for them,” a woman said.

But Zhou Juemin, director of the Shanghai Matchmaking Association, which organized the expo, defended the agencies.

“As far as we’re concerned all of the information provided by the matchmaking companies is genuine,” he said.

“And as for charging, they are commercial organizations, so it is perfectly reasonable for them to charge for their services.”

Regardless of the complaints about the matchmaking firms, one of the most distinctive features of the overseas returnees area was the lack of men.

Lucy Xu, a woman in her early 30s who returned to China four years ago after a decade in Japan, said that in the hour she spent in the area she saw just two.

“I prefer men who’ve lived overseas because it gives us something in common,” she said.

“But here I saw only parents and unmarried women.”

But not all of the single women in the returnees zone were upset by the lack of eligible males.

Clair Wang, a 26-year-old who returned to China after completing her postgraduate studies in the UK, said she was only at the expo to keep her parents happy.

“If I don’t show I’m making an effort they’ll just keep going on about it,” she said.

Wang, who works for an oil company, said she spent most of the day chatting to a female friend from university.

More importantly, she said she was unconcerned about her single status.

“I’m still young, right?”


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