Sina Weibo Post Goes Viral
Since the late 1970s, two seemingly unrelated phenomena have developed and — in their own ways — shaped the landscape of modern China: the country’s one-child policy and subsequent gender imbalance, and the commercialization of Chinese television. With the sex ratio at birth, which measures the number of male live births per hundred female live births, shifting from 103 to 107 in the 1960s and 1970s to 120 by 2004, and Chinese television becoming fully commercialized in the 1990s, the issue of China’s present and future “marriage squeeze” has gone from the household into the public sphere, with dating shows proliferating on national and regional television stations. In recent years, hot dating shows like “If You Are the One” (非诚勿扰), “Let’s Date,” and “One in A Hundred” (百里挑一) have hit the airwaves, becoming so popular, in fact, that censors have started to make moves to reel them in.
On Sina Weibo — the microblogging platform often singled out as “China’s Twitter” — China’s gender imbalance issue has become a hot topic in 2012, leading thousands of bachelors to chime in using the tag “A wife has become a luxury good” (老婆将成奢侈品). Under this heading, Weibo users are sharing thoughts and frustrations about a “Bachelor Crisis” kicking off in 2012, making reference to the fact that the total number of bachelors in China is expected to rise from 10 million this year to more than 30 million by 2017. By 2022, that number is expected to climb even higher, to 40 million.
A quick look at some of the comments left on the topic by Weibo users gives a good sense of the thoughts many young Chinese have on the issue. As one Weibo user, nicknamed “Woman born to love beauty” joked, “Getting a wife will be a sign of a successful man in the future. So please cherish your lover, as a wife will be a luxury!” Despite prevailing pessimism about the topic on Weibo, one 29-year-old user from Chongqing said that although China’s gender imbalance can be an obstacle, men from Chongqing needn’t worry, writing, “Chongqing men are handsome and intelligent, so why wouldn’t they be able to find a wife? Men become even more charming as they get older.”
Weighing in on the topic, China’s “Internet matchmaker” and founder of the dating site Jiayuan, Gong Haiyan recently said that if a wife indeed does become a “luxury good” in China, a good husband will become something of a “boutique luxury good,” and that men need to plan accordingly. As Gong told the Chongqing-based news site CQCB, no matter how wide China’s gender gap becomes, young people need to “keep the right attitude towards relationships.” Despite Gong’s platitudes, however, debate on the issue continues to spread like wildfire on Sina Weibo and other online forums.
Article by Betty Chen