Here comes the bride

The hottest topic in China last weekend was Shu Qi’s sudden wedding

shu qi

Shu: her surprise wedding ceremony in Prague was big news in China

In May the notoriously private Taiwan actress Ruby Lin announced that she had started a relationship with fellow Taiwanese Wallace Huo. A few months later, the 40 year-old actress – who began the year as one of Taiwan’s most eligible bachelorettes (see WiC327) – shunned a lengthy engagement and married the 38 year-old in an exclusive resort in Bali. And last Saturday wedding bells were ringing for another top Taiwanese actress and again things happened fast.

Shu Qi, also 40 and one of Lin’s best friends, almost broke China’s internet when she announced that she had married actor-director Stephen Fung, 42.

The nuptials took place in Prague, where he was filming his latest feature The Adventurers, a treasure hunt film that stars Shu alongside Jean Reno and Andy Lau.

The road to Shu’s marriage was a somewhat lengthier one. The two first met on the set of the movie Bishonen in 1997 but she went on to have a seven-year romance with her City Of Glass co-star Leon Lai.

Fung, meanwhile, was linked to another actress for nine years. But the two kept in touch, before deciding to give their relationship a go.

“Those who are destined to be together will eventually find their way together no matter what,” one netizen gushed on WeChat.

“Even with all the twists and turns, it was meant to be him after all,” another romantic sighed happily.

The refreshingly low-key wedding was in sharp contrast to the over-the-top nuptials between celebrity couple Huang Xiaoming and Angelababy, who reportedly splurged Rmb200 million to host 2,000 guests in Shanghai last October (see WiC300).

Unlike Angelababy, whose dress was custom-made by Dior, Shu’s wedding gown was reportedly a gift from the casual wear label H&M two years ago. Her veil was picked out from a local wedding shop. Fung bought his suit from a roadside outlet in Prague, says Hong Kong’s Apple Daily.

“Simple and romantic, that’s what true love should be,” another netizen wrote approvingly. “They make me believe in love again.”

Shu’s unexpected marriage, however, has brought unwanted attention to another Taiwanese actress: Lin Chi-ling.

Last year, the Chinese media called the three Lin’s – Ruby Lin and Lin Chi-ling and Shu (whose real name is Lin Li-hui) the “Golden Leftover Women”.

The nickname resonates for a growing number of Chinese women who are unmarried – and termed as ‘leftover’ because women their age typically ended up as spinsters in traditional Chinese culture.

Now that Ruby and Shu have left the single life, Lin Chi-ling, 41, is the last of the trio to walk down the aisle.

“Someone please do something to help Lin Chi-ling. She’s the oldest of the three and yet she’s the only one left,” one netizen pleaded.

In response to the outpouring of sympathy, Lin responded online: “So happy [for the newly weds]… I think I need to make a little more effort now!”

Other women yet to find their perfect mate – and those who already know that they are likely to marry much later in life than their mother’s generation – have been planning for the future.

For instance Oriental Morning Post has reported that more and more Chinese women have travelled overseas to have their eggs frozen. Awareness of the practice grew after 42-year-old actress-director Xu Jinglei (also still single) revealed that she visited the US to have her eggs frozen several years ago.

But why not have it done at home in China? At the moment, only women with cervical cancer or those diagnosed as clinically infertile are allowed access to fertility treatments, the newspaper reports.

Single, unmarried women, on the other hand, don’t get the same right.

“The government shouldn’t have a say about my ovaries just because I’m not married,” one woman complained to the New York Times.

To that end, anxious women are trying to get around the regulations by travelling further afield to have their eggs frozen.

Foreign clinics have identified the trend and have been targeting Chinese patients by setting up seminars to promote their services to single women.

One US clinic went so far as to combine fertility treatment with property hunting – a favourite pastime for a lot of Chinese tourists.

“We partner with different companies to reach out to potential clients. We also work with real estate groups to combine open houses abroad with visits to our clinics,” said Deng Xuyang, chief executive of Mengmei, which operates a chain of fertility centres in the US.

For those wanting access to the same service closer to home – and to dodge the tours of the Californian condos that are part of the package – a cheaper but increasingly popular option is to go to Taiwan.

Indeed, all the talk on the mainland about Shu and the marriages of the Golden Leftover Women looks likely to boost business at the island’s fertility clinics further.

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