Late afternoon in June, and the East Lake beach in Wuhan was busier than ever. More than 60 women in bikinis were parading on stage. The audience looked on intently. But if it sounds like a beauty pageant, then you’d be wrong. It was actually a matchmaking event for the rich and powerful.
Exploitative stuff? Depends on your perspective – the men attending the matchmaking were required to prove they held assets of Rmb30 million ($4.6 million) or enjoyed at least Rmb1 million in annual income. They also had to pay Rmb99,999 for an entrance ticket. Female participants had to be college educated and undergo a rigorous screening process.
The event in Wuhan is hardly the first to cash in on the country’s new millionaires. In 2009 matchmaking site Golden Bachelor grabbed headlines for charging 21 single billionaires an admission fee of Rmb100,000 to participate in a similar matchmaking day in Beijing.
The China Daily reported that 22 women cooked, sang and danced to capture the attention of the eligible bachelors.
In issue 87, we also reported that for $4,500, a Shanghai-based matchmaking company was offering a full-time “love hunter” service to scour restaurants and shopping malls for the right women for its rich – but shy – male clients.
Critics decry the proliferation of such services for reinforcing stereotypes that rich men get the beautiful wives. But the statistics can give that impression too. A recent survey found that more than 70% of women said a man should have a house, a steady income and savings before they would consider marrying him. And 54% of single men ranked beauty as the top priority in their own search, according the survey, which was commissioned by the China Association of Marriage and Families Research and the Baihe Marriage Research Institute.
Netizens who weren’t invited to the Wuhan event were soon offering their opinions. “The women were so greedy and materialistic. What difference is this from selling your body? Is being rich that impressive?” one wrote on NetEase. “Might as well take off all your clothes and have a nude beauty pageant,” urged another.
Others ridiculed the rich men. “If they think they can get a pure-hearted girl this way they are really mistaken,” wrote another (presumably middle-income) contributor.
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