Zhang Lijia

Love in China is complicated, and often disguised in numbers, explains author Zhang Lijia on this Valentines’ Day on her weblog. “We need more love, not more money.”

Zhang Lijia:

Back in the 80’s, before I finally got married at the age of 26, my beloved grandma used to read out personal ads in the newspaper every day, in the hopes that some of the amazing numbers and facts would attract my attention: she desperately wanted me to settle down. Those zhenghui or, soliciting marriage ads, often read like this: certain man, 30 years old, 1.76 meter high, university educated, with a monthly salary of 900 yuan. Looking for a pretty girl aged between 22 to 28 and height above 1.60 meter.

Now, the importance of the number game has increased even more. Last year, for a potential story, I visited the marriage market (call it “love market” would be an insult to love) in central Beijing’s Zhongshan Park where parents meet to find potential partners for their children. The hopeful parents often hold a piece of paper, detailing their children’s conditions and the criteria of the person they are looking for. I was amused to find how they are filled with numbers: the person’s age, heath, salary, the size of the flat they own . . .

But I am not so amused to see how some young girls shamelessly pursue wealth through marriage. Last autumn, in a TV dating show, a 22-year-old model from Beijing named Ma Nuo infamously said: “I’d rather cry in a BMW car than laugh on the backseat of a bicycle,” when she flatly rejected a suitor who didn’t boast a deep pocket. Ma, now nicknamed BMW, has become the post girl for such materialistic girl…

The BMW girl is probably too young to know the misery of crying in a fancy car or the poverty of a loveless relationship. And I am not sure how much true love such poeple can give if they love money too much.

I hope the young ladies will pay more attention to make more love instead of making more money. Romantic love may bring some fragrance to reduce the stench of this materialistic society.

More at Zhang Lijia’s weblog.

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

More on Zhang Lijia and China’s moral crisis on Storify. 

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