Chinese Men Looking West

Tiffany Tan, Washington Post, November 11, 2010

The supposed materialism of Chinese women is putting off some Chinese men and driving them into the arms of Western women. Tiffany Tan delves deeper

“Chinese man fancies Western woman” was the title of the personal ad Li Lei posted online, in which he asked if any Western “ladies (in Beijing) are open to a long-term and serious relationship with a Chinese guy”. And by “long-term and serious”, Li meant marriage.

Marriages between Chinese men and Western women in China are noticeably fewer than vice versa, so why is Li taking the road less traveled?

After studying for a combined five years in the Netherlands and United Kingdom, the 30-year-old Beijinger discovered he preferred the personality of Western European women. He considers them more independent than their Chinese counterparts, less girlish and more straightforward.

Li puts extra emphasis on the last attribute.

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Tony, a 28-year-old native of Hunan who asked not to use his real name, is also keen on Western women.

After two serious relationships with Chinese women, in which he got exasperated trying to figure out the reason why his girlfriends got upset, he decided two years ago that a North American or European woman would suit him better.

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Tony and Li’s preference for Western women, the men say, is also due to the growing materialism of Chinese women and the pressure to provide a new apartment for one’s bride-to-be.

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Li says the spotlight on newlyweds’ possessions is something that “distorts love in China”.

Li and Tony’s taste in women may put them in the minority, but their numbers are growing as more foreign women come to China and more Chinese men learn foreign languages and experience life overseas.

Fishbowl Events, a Beijing group run by foreigners and known for its speed-dating parties, has observed a marked increase in male Chinese participants in the past few years.

“In 2007, we had about 20 percent Chinese men,” says Ola Zdzarska, co-owner of Fishbowl. “Now it is 40 percent.

“Some of them are really focused on foreign girls. When I see (evaluation) cards after the speed dating, I see they don’t take Chinese girls seriously, because they just want to date foreign girls.”

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“Traditionally, a Chinese man will want a woman who is more submissive and listens and sort of follows her duties–whether it’s cooking or sex,” the clinical psychologist [Dr Alfred Chambers, a relationship-counseling specialist at Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics] says. “Western women will be more open, aggressive, assertive sexually.”

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