The Shanghai Marriage Market: Where Your Folks Set You Up

In a country of 1.3 billion people, it’s not always easy to meet Mr. or Miss Right. That’s why on Saturday and Sunday afternoons parents congregate in a corner of People’s Park — a sanctuary of palm trees, ponds, and winding paths in the heart of Shanghai. Lining the brick pathways are hundreds of pastel umbrellas on which these well-meaning parents have clipped information about their sons and daughters, including their age, height, weight, level of education, and occupation. It’s known around town as the “marriage market.” The parents chat with each other about the attributes their children are looking for in a mate, and if they think they have a good match, they will arrange a blind date and hope that sparks fly. This phenomenon developed organically more than a decade ago and has since sprung up in other parts of China. In Chinese culture, in-laws are very important, and Chinese youth are more open to being set up by their parents because they grew up in a household that values obedience. Prospective partners are normally in their late 20s and early 30s.