Whilst in Shanghai we walked through one of the famous parks called The People’s Park. Usually parks are pretty regular in terms of having ponds, fish, flowers, plans, pathways, etc, but this particular one is very different because it is also known as “Shanghai’s Marriage Market” (人民公园相亲角 pinyin: Rénmín Gōngyuán Xiāngqīn Jiǎo). Parents open umbrellas and place information on these umbrellas on the specifications of their child they want to match make. The point is to find a prospective partner for their child who usually needs to match up to certain requirements. Walking through this marriage market you can see how height, weight, career/job and education are part of the main specs and it is hoped that someone who goes to this market has a child who may be the perfect match.

Personally I do not know how I feel about this, as it is essentially parents selling their kids off, but I do understand why parents feel compelled and desperate to do this. Due to China’s history of the one child policy, this has caused a gender imbalance where there are more men than women ( as boys are prized in traditional Chinese culture). With this there is also an ageing population in China so hence the desperation among many Chinese parents. Also for women if you are 25 and over you are seen as gone past your due date in terms of being marriageable age. In many ways it is a phenomenon. In addition, it shows that in China, marriage is a family decision, not an individual’s decision/choice. 

I spoke to some of the parents asking them about why they chose to do this, and some mentioned that they need to feel certain that their child was married off and that they were secure. To them this was important. In that sense, I do not blame the parents, but I do know if it was me I would be pissed if my parents ever did that. The parents I spoke to mentioned that their children were in agreement of this, but then again, it makes you wonder, what do these parents consider as “agreement”? I will leave it here.