With about 50% of China’s Internet users between 24 and 40 years old, online dating services are taking off in a market estimated to be worth US$800 million, as more Chinese turn to the Internet to find potential marriage partners. With the Internet as a main tool used for social networking among the younger generation, the online dating market is expected to grow even further.
Online dating portal ‘Shiji Jiayuan’ was established by Ms Gong Haiyan, who set up the dating portal after she experienced trouble finding a marriage partner on other online sites. “Members of those sites signed up for different purposes. Some only wanted to make friends; others wanted one night stands; some wanted to make business contacts”
The website eventually took off, now boasting a database of 30 million singles, and sponsors dating shows on television. “Chinese are brought up being told not to speak to strangers. So it is hard for many to approach an attractive stranger since they are timid and shy. The Internet is a good tool for meeting people as it is much easier to start a conversation with a stranger online.” Despite the boost the Internet provides for partner-seeking Chinese, many more may have to stay single for a long time.
According to a recent study, more than 24 million Chinese men could find themselves without a partner by 2020 – due to a skewed gender balance caused by China’s One-Child Policy and a cultural preference for boys over girls. In 2005, there were 119 men for every 100 women. Some areas had as many as 130 men for every 100 women, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.