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On Chinese Women Dating / Marrying White Men

I usually don’t have much problems with Chinese women dating and marrying white men.  Traditionally I typically view them on an individual basis. If the relationship last and works out for both parties, it’s a win-win for all – who cares about if two people are of different races?

Sure, I don’t deny that the phenomenon of Chinese women looking to date and marry white men do raise some broader potential social / cultural issues for me.  Why does it seem like some Chinese women are purposefully shunning Chinese men?  Why does one often find white men successful in looking to date and marry Chinese women but much rarer Chinese men dating and marrying white women?

I usually chalk up these nagging social issues to women looking to move up the social and economic ladder.

Because of the history of the last 200 years, Westerners typically make more money, are financially more successful and stable, than Chinese.  To the extent women (Chinese included) marry for security, dating and marrying white men seems only natural.  From the Chinese perspective, it might even be encouraged, if nothing else than to improve the quality of life some of its people through the fast track.

But recently, I came across this WSJ report that seems to turn that theory upside down.  It appears in Hong Kong, the real action is not of poor Chinese women marrying rich foreign men, which I understand, but rich Chinese women seeking out to marry white men.

The above picture apparently caused quite a stir and went viral in Hong Kong cyberspace recently.

Here is a copy of the WSJ article in full:

Three words ignited a social-media storm in Hong Kong this past week: free for foreigners.

It started with an advertisement that depicted a young Asian woman smiling at a Caucasian man, who eyed her while holding a martini glass. Created by a Hong Kong speed-dating company, the flier was intended to promote a matchmaking event over the weekend that asked women to pay HK$4,800—more than US$600—to meet expatriate men, who were urged to attend and dine for free. The invitation defined eligible men as “35-48, professionals and foreigners only.”

The ad went viral online, infuriating some who decried the event as degrading to native Hong Kong men and women alike.

“Free food and a easy chick for white guys?! Only in Asia,” says the Facebook page of Kamy Yeung, in a post that accompanied a picture of the ad. The post was shared 840 times.

While there was no explicit mention of race in the invitation for the event,  social-media commentators homed in on the issue.

“Are you a foreigner? Preferably white? Are you rich? Do you have stocks and bonds? A passport? Do you like hot Chinese girls? Come have a free dating dinner,” one Hong Kong-based user wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging service.

The founder of Hong Kong Speed Dating, Rachael Chan, said Hong Kong’s five-star Mandarin Hotel refused to host the weekend dinner party just hours before the event, which was open to 20 diners total (both men and women), and the event was moved to a venue in Soho, an upscale bar-heavy district.

A Mandarin Oriental spokeswoman said it wasn’t a hotel event, and declined to comment further.

Ms. Chan defended the event, saying that asking women to pay US$600 was a way to screen attendees and an attempt to help serve her customers better. “When it comes to foreigners of the top 0.1% kind—those bank managing directors—all they ask for is someone smart and financially independent,” she says.

Depicting a young girl on the poster that sparked the backlash, Ms. Chan says, was a mistake.

“This event, I made a mistake because my assistant did the flier. I didn’t approve it. If I saw the photo I would not have used it,” Ms. Chan said in an interview.

“For most guys, especially bankers, they say, ‘I’ve seen many, many pretty girls and I’m looking for a wife.’”

But the company doesn’t limit itself to collecting fees only from wealthy women. Ms. Chan said this weekend her company is hosting a dating event that matches female flight attendants, who will attend free of charge, with men who will pay HK$5,000 to mingle with them.

So far, about 10 men have signed up for the event, which isn’t restricted based on nationality for men or women. She refused to disclose the location, out of fear of sparking further backlash, but says that the event shouldn’t be construed as just a way for men to meet good-looking women.

Why flight attendants, then? “It’s not necessarily because they’re pretty,” Ms. Chan explains. “It’s because they travel around the world, and can carry on a conversation,” she says.

Are rich Chinese Women in Hong Kong disproportionally seeking out Western men? How prevalent is this phenomenon of economically well-off Chinese (or more broadly Asian) women seeking Western men in other regions of the world: Taiwan, Malaysia, Europe, America?

Are these even the right questions to ask?  Perhaps I am making too much of a big deal out of stories like this.

After all, individuals will always have personal preferences for personal reasons.  Just because a dating service has found a market of bringing Chinese women together with foreign men, one might argue, does not say anything about Chinese culture per se.  Just because it has found a market of finding foreign men interested in Chinese women does not indicate a slighting of Chinese tradition through Western eyes per se.

 

  1. JJ
    May 10th, 2012 at 00:35 | #1

    It’s a much more complicated situation than simple preference. I feel a big part of it is about social standing and “face.”

    A single, rich women is often older, while most single, rich men in her age group are likely dating someone younger. So these women don’t want to lose face and they resort to dating foreigners to give the impression that it’s not because they’re undesirable, but rather they made an active choice.

    Also, another factor is about independence. While I’m generalizing now, one of the reasons I used to date white women was because it felt refreshing to only have to deal with her, rather than her and her family.

    But now as I get older, I appreciate the importance of family.

    Interestingly, Asian Americans are out-marrying less: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/04/16/the-real-reason-why-asian-americans-are-outmarrying-less/

  2. pug_ster
    May 10th, 2012 at 07:40 | #2

    That’s the problem with successful professional women nowadays, wanting it all. Unfortunately, the more they concentrate on their careers and less on finding a spouse or some kind of social stigma of going after a man who earns less than her, they find themselves in situations being a ‘leftover’ women.

  3. JJ
    May 10th, 2012 at 09:02 | #3

    Well I don’t think it’s fair to say that it’s the woman’s fault. The reality is that it’s still a male-dominated culture, both in the West and in China (and really everywhere) and a woman has every right to do what she wants.

    And there are plenty of older, successful Chinese women that don’t care about that stuff and will marry a Chinese guy despite their social standings not “matching.” My cousin’s wife is 6 years older than him and yeah, his mom put up a huge fuss when he wanted to marry her—but now they have a kid now and she’s adored by her grandma.

    In fact, I would daresay that most of the professional women I’ve met are not bothered by this. Of course I mainly hang around the normal locals, and not the ones that cling to the colonial scene :)

  4. May 10th, 2012 at 09:03 | #4

    Actually Chinese marrying outside their ethnicity is something quite rare. Just check the figure on mainland China, Taiwan or HK. It is actually more common in overseas Chinese group. I think when we put the focus on the women folk we are actually missing the point. In most dating scenes it is the male who make the first move. Inter ethnic dating of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia nations like Malaysia, Singaporean are also predominantly between Chinese women and Malay and Indian men.

    From my experience, there are very few traditional Chinese educated men willing to have non-Chinese speaking children. To say that these men are Chinese chauvinist can be a bit too harsh. Because in most inter ethnic marriage between European males and Chinese females, the children will most certainly grow up under the influence of the males’ culture unless the couple stay in Chinese dominated neighbourhood.

    This is one of the major reason proportionately few Chinese men than women marrying outside their ethnicity. The main reason is down to familiarity. Despite so much talk of inter ethnicity dating or marrying, people from the same background usually clicked easier. So throughout the world, it is people who are of similar background that get together the most. In Malaysia and Singapore, I would say over 99 percent of Chinese marry within the same group, it is the same for Malay and Indian.

    For some European men, they do not have these concern, they can almost be certain that his children would grow up in a culture he is familiar with. That’s why it is much easier for them to choose spouse who are Arabic, Japanese, Indian, Chinese etc. But in the end, he doesn’t have to conform, that makes things a lot easier.

  5. May 10th, 2012 at 09:13 | #5

    However, I would like to add that classism is very strong in HK. In the ad posted, when it says “Dinner with Foreigners” it actually means “Dinner with good looking, western European reasonably well off foreigners”. If you think the foreigners here mean Pilipino, Bangladeshi workers, over aged, over weight under paid European expatriat etc, you are way too naive. Of course, the picture of the supposed Chinese lady is also misleading (it seems the organizers realized that too) because obviously we have men having to pay to meet attractive world travelled young ladies.

  6. colin
    May 10th, 2012 at 10:55 | #6

    What defines “rich”. I would think that being able to pay $600 for the event would not make one rich. Wouldn’t truly rich women in hong kong have other resources to meet foreigners if they wanted to? And I would imagine much more reliable ways at that?

    if the lady attendies at this event aren’t really rich, it is no more special than normal asian (and other) ladies wanting to marry whites for economic and social dividends.

  7. May 11th, 2012 at 13:59 | #7

    Traditionally I typically view them on an individual basis. If the relationship last and works out for both parties, it’s a win-win for all – who cares about if two people are of different races?

    Answers like this tend to obscure the fact that this is also a human rights issue and a problem of justice and fairness. There would be no problems if there was a balance between the the numbers of AM and AF dating or marrying outside. But the fact remains that there is a disparity and that that disparity is caused by racist forces. Nothing affects a person’s dignity and self-esteem more than how they are portrayed as worthy of attention, affection, from the opposite sex. This is especially true in the west for men because of the association between a man’s “masculinity” and his potential as a desired suitor for the opposite sex . The media has treated Asian men in this regarded far worse than any other racial group. Asian men are the targets of the worst PR campaign in this regard in the world and that western media image is so popular that it has become a slogan even in some parts of Asia such as colonial Hong Kong.

    Many of these women (there are actually surprisingly few considering the British colonial history of Hong Kong and even fewer are rich) have been seriously brainwashed.

    It isn’t so much wealth as the image of wealth that matters to these women. Western men are seen as more successful even when on average they are not (at least in Hong Kong) because success is conveyed through popular images: those images are of the wallstreet type, the business tycoon, European royalty, dotcom tycoon, etc, all of which are commonly portrayed as white males fulfilling these roles.

    But it is not just that white males are promoted, it’s that Asian men are also demoted by virulently racist images (such as cruel to animals, girl baby killers, Nazis, etc etc along with more benign but still quite harmful images such as nerdy, docile, quite, etc.)

  8. May 11th, 2012 at 15:22 | #8

    @melektaus
    Good point. How Asian men are treated in Hollywood blockbusters is a very damaging factor. There was a good documentary done in 2006 called “Slanted Screen” looking at this issue from Asian actors who witnessed first hand in Hollywood.

    http://www.slantedscreen.com/

  9. Wayne
    May 11th, 2012 at 18:20 | #9

    @melektaus

    Thanks Melektaus. You summed things up perfectly – the last paragraph in particular.

    It use to be whites that put up signs saying “no chinese or dogs allowed” (and the sign did exist).

    Now it is self-loathing Chinese doing the same to other Chinese.

  10. lolz
    May 11th, 2012 at 20:11 | #10

    All I can say is that things are changing. In Singapore and Shanghai at least I see less women today who are ONLY after white men because they are white.

    I am not surprised at some women who only go after white men though, because expats in Asian nations are typically wealthier than the locals and there are gold digger everywhere. Also a lot of asian women simply want to be different than the rest.

    I find it lame when I see the self-appointed moralists white guys with the goal of “liberating” asian women from asian men. However a lot of the white guys in interracial relations are just fine and pleasant to hang out with.

  11. May 11th, 2012 at 22:41 | #11

    Specific issues aside, I do too believe inter-racial marriages are a great thing, as long as the couples are happy. If we fast forward another millennium, I hope people then would be much more mixed than today.

    In Hawaii, it is common to see people with a long list of heritage, for example: 1/4 Chinese, 1/2 Hawaiian, 1/8 Portuguese, and 1/8 Caucasian.

    I believe such an individual generally would have a deeper appreciation for cultures that make up that person.

  12. May 13th, 2012 at 12:58 | #12

    @YinYang

    Correct, there’s nothing wrong with interracial relationships per se. The problem is one of social fairness.

    Also, the assumption that those who oppose the disparity is against IR has been used by those very people that take advantage of the disparity (whites) to delegitimize the reasons given against the disparity. It is a strawman argument that tries to portray those against the disparity as backward racist (a common tactic of racists themselves).

  13. Skyrocket
    May 17th, 2012 at 15:54 | #13

    OK…… some corrections.

    FIRST… the vast majority of the women were mainland Chinese women not local Hong Kong women.

    SECOND… this dating agency was founded by Hong Kong women but her clients are mainland women

    THIRD… this is comfirmed by the interviews, this also explains why the advertisement was written in simplified Chinese. Basically it targets rich mainland Chinese women trying to get an green card.

  14. Zack
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:38 | #14

    the impression i get is that when domestic security is less of an issue, Chinese women tend to date Chinese men; i cite my experiences dating in Taiwan. Taiwanese girls don’t necessarily find western men more attractive anymore than iranian or iraqi women are going to find western men more attractive, no my experience was more that they preferred taiwanese men, and not just in terms of finding a good man to marry, but also as a sexual partner as well.

    The Chinese women who would want to marry foreigners out of love as opposed to financial security is actually pretty rare. I predict we’ll see a lot less Chinese women marrying for financial stability when the majority of China’s 1.3 billion people become the world’s largest middle class. There is after all, a reason why there’s the trend of Russian women marrying Chinese men, and it aint just cuz Chinese men are manlier and handsomer than their Russian counterparts;)

  15. Sleeper
    May 20th, 2012 at 11:01 | #15

    In my opinion, Chinese tradions also influence Chinese women’s choices. Conflicts between the wife and the husband’s mother are common and hard to be neutralized once existed in Chinese families; in addition the wife has to do a lot of “homework” according to the tradition. All of these are “normal” that should get used to for women who were born before 1970s, but may not be acceptable for those who were born later. It is not hard to understand their desire of breaking away from constraints and looking forward to a more (seems to be) easy-going life-style. However, it should only be a matter of choice, but not a matter of racism.

  16. Zack
    May 21st, 2012 at 16:31 | #16

    @Sleeper
    conflicts between spouses and in laws over child rearing, cooking etc etc are a universal thing, rather than a solely Chinese issue.

  17. abouthearing
    July 13th, 2012 at 16:05 | #17

    One of my friend said about chinese girls on the forum, agreed by lots of my other friends:
    “anyway, i am french and i am married with a chinese woman… i am with her for 6 years…. and believe me, chinese girls are far away to be a real idealist girl that men can imagine…

    – first, life is a game for them… does not matter what, married or not married… and that is completly true, men have to guess what they have in mind.
    – second, they will never accept that they are wrong… honestly i don t know why ? too proud ? mh??!!
    – no real respect for things in general.
    – if they do not have a real answer or justifitive from a question… they will tell you, here it is china, or they will tell you, well i am chinese… or people in china are like that.
    – then, if you express yourself about something that you have , notice that was bad… she will do agree with you… but she will not mean it really, because she is also like this.
    – if you do not accept what she wants, she will play the little girl.or even cry ( it s fake ).
    – most of the time, she will tell you that she bought something for you… but the real part, it will be for her…
    – they always expect more from a man than they can provide.
    – most of topic of the day, MONEY.
    – reading book, usually, love story… so bullshit.

    i think that i said the most commun… GOOD LUCK for men who want to be with a chinese women… honestly, i regret my marriage :)))))”

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