This is People’s Park in Shanghai. Until 1949, this was the racecourse, the preserve of the city’s elite. That all changed when the communists came to power, naturally, and it is now a place where people can come and enjoy some (relative) peace in a city of around 23 million.

I don’t read more than a few characters of Chinese, but I quickly worked out what these pieces of paper, attached to an open umbrella, were advertising. Those numbers that look like dates are dates, and the ones that look like heights are heights. The first character on most sheets (which I do recognise) is the character for ‘woman’.

A quick search on the internet confirms that this is information about young people looking for a marriage partner – or at least whose parents are looking for a marriage partner for them.


In a sign of the times, Wikipedia says that men now look for women with “elegance and a decent career path” rather than “diligence and the willingness to suffer the burden of life”. Wikipedia also points out that there will potentially be a gender gap of 24 million more men than women by 2020. From a Western perspective, it’s easy to laugh at such things, but it can’t be easy for young people in China.


4 thoughts on “Matchmaking

  1. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would ever read an article entitled ‘Matchmaking’ penned by the skilled hand of Alan Nesbit. Whatever next, an agony column in the Jeju Evening Standard?

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