Who doesn’t love a bargain? On November 11, a matchmaking site managed to put love as well as a bargain together by launching a controversial group-buying deal on Singles Day. This promised to help bachelors find a wife in Vietnam. Perhaps it should come as little surprise that many desperate men jumped at the opportunity.
In fact, more than 20,000 signed up for the deal, says NetEase, an internet portal. How it works is that those who signed on for the deal on 55tuan.com, a matchmaking site, will be introduced to young Vietnamese women, mostly aged under 25. If they find a potential spouse, this will cost them a matchmaking fee of $2,000 (viewed as a great deal given these types of agencies normally charge up to 15 times as much as this).
But why look for a spouse in Vietnam? For years, single men in China have complained that women in their own country are too demanding and materialistic. Vietnamese women, on the other hand, are deemed loyal and obedient. As ads for the tours promised: “Go to Vietnam to find a bride that doesn’t care about cars or houses!” The potential brides, the dating site claims, can speak some Chinese and promise be loyal to their husbands and his family.
Wang, a bachelor, told Beijing Youth Daily that he has been under pressure from his parents to marry but he hasn’t had much luck with girls at home because he couldn’t afford to buy a house or a car (key to success in the betrothal stakes in urban China). So when he saw the Singles Day promotion, he quickly signed up.
The group-buying deal, however, has prompted plenty of criticism from netizens on weibo. “It’s hard to fathom what the people who enter into these group-buying deals are thinking. Even though they say they are looking for a wife who is not materialistic, they are still using money to buy love,” one netizen lamented.
“This is human trafficking! Who is going to protect the human rights of these Vietnamese women?” another netizen wrote on weibo.
But be careful what you wish for. This week a 50 year-old man – going by the last name He – complained that not one, but two of his wives from Vietnam had run away. He told Beijing Youth Daily that he signed up for the deal after reading on weibo about men who are happily married to Vietnamese women.
He initially picked a 21 year-old girl after several meetings had been arranged. But on their wedding day, his wife-to-be freaked out after he attempted to kiss her. She screamed and left with her luggage. The agent later told He that she had claimed assault and had no intention of coming back.
But He didn’t give up. He paid another Rmb20,000 ($3,200) to go to Vietnam again and arranged more meetings. He took more care this time and finally choose a 30 year-old lady. They got married in Vietnam and came back to China. But marital bliss was short-lived. After three weeks, his wife’s grandfather ‘became ill’ and she needed to go back to see him. She’s never returned.
Don’t say you haven’t been told, the government says. After the group-buying deal was announced, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security both issued warnings about the risks of finding Vietnamese wives through matchmakers. They reiterated that buyers could end up swindled out of money or with an unwilling wife.
Online ads for the Vietnamese wife ‘bargain’ deals were also deleted last week.
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