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For many Chinese bachelors,no deed means no dates

But by the exacting standards of single Chinese women,it seems,Wang lacks the bankable attribute of real property

Written by ANDREW JACOBS | Beijing |
April 17, 2011 3:40:22 am

In the realm of eligible bachelors,Wang Lin has a lot to recommend him. A 28-year-old college-educated insurance salesman,Wang has a flawless set of white teeth,a tolerable karaoke voice and a three-year-old Nissan with furry blue seat covers.

But by the exacting standards of single Chinese women,it seems,Wang lacks the bankable attribute of real property. Given that even a cramped,two-bedroom apartment on the dusty fringe of the capital sells for about $150,000,Wang’s $900-a-month salary means he may forever be condemned to the ranks of the renting.

Last year,he said,this deficiency prompted a high-end dating agency to reject his application.

“Sometimes I wonder if I will ever find a wife,” said Wang,who lives with his parents,who remind him of his single status with nagging regularity.

There have been many undesirable repercussions of China’s unrelenting real estate boom,which has driven prices up by 140 per cent nationwide since 2007,and by as much as 800 per cent in Beijing over the past eight years. Working-class buyers have been frozen out of the market while an estimated 65 million apartments across the country bought as speculative investments sit empty.

The collateral damage to urban young professionals,especially men,who increasingly find themselves lovelorn and despairing as a growing number of women hold out for a mate with a deed,is largely overlooked.

More than 70 per cent of single women in a recent survey said they would tie the knot only with a prospective husband who owned a home. 50 per cent said financial considerations ranked above all else,with good morals and personality falling beneath the top three requirements. (Not surprisingly,54 per cent of single men ranked beauty first,according to the report,which surveyed 32,000 people and was jointly issued by the Chinese Research Association of Marriage and Family and the All-China Women’s Federation.)

Given the nation’s gender imbalance,an outgrowth of a cultural preference for boys and China’s stringent family-planning policies,as many as 24 million men could be perpetual bachelors by 2020,according to the report.

Yang Xuning,29,a sportswriter,said much of the pressure comes from parents who feel taunted by the wealth around them.

He recalls his first meeting with his girlfriend’s parents,when he was asked about his salary and his nesting plans. “I tried to reason with her mother,explaining that it’s not practical to buy something at this stage in our lives but she wouldn’t hear it,” he said.

He stood his ground,she stood hers,and a few months later,Yang’s girlfriend called it quits.

“Many girls see marriage as a way of changing their status without hard work,” he said bitterly.

Many women are unapologetic about their priorities,citing the age-old tradition in which men provided a home for their brides,even if that home came with a mother-in-law.

Gao Yanan,a 27-year-old accountant with a fondness for Ray-Bans and Zara pantsuits,said the matter was not up for debate. “It’s the guy’s responsibility to tell a girl right away whether he owns an apartment,” she said. “It gives her a chance not to fall in love.”

With such women on the prowl,even men who do have their own homes have come up with techniques to weed out the inordinately materialistic.

Liu Binbin,30,an editor at a publishing house in Beijing,said he often arrived at first dates by bus,even though he owned a car. “If they ask me questions like ‘Do you live with your parents?’ I know what they’re after,” he said.

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