The market of lonely hearts in People’s Square Park

Andrea Nardini

SHÀNGHǍI The Marriage Market in People’s Square doesn’t have an exact name. There are different definitions on the internet: Marriage Market, Bride Market, Matchmaking corner. In Italy we would call this place, “a market of lonely hearts”. People’s Square (人民公园) is a huge park, huge even by Shanghai standards. Every Saturday the park turns into a hunting ground. But at People’s Square, there are no guns firing bullets into the air. Here people are hunting for an exchange of contact details, an appointment, and marriage for their son or daughter. According to a study by the “Chinese Academy of Social Sciences”, there will be more than 24 million single Chinese men by 2020. The odd thing about these romantic weekends is that here there are only people aged sixty or over in attendance.

Here in the ‘market of lonely hearts’ there are only parents of sons/daughters that are looking for a soul mate! Crazy, isn’t it? Hundreds of fathers, mothers (and perhaps some aunts) that are holding an A4 document containing the following information:

Passport picture/photo (some lack pictures: perhaps not a good sign)
Place of birth
Eye colour
Title of study/ School qualification
Income / Salary
Car owner?
Size of house

Some of the signs read:

“Man, born in 1978, 169 cm tall, good level of education, income about 8-10 thousand RMB/month, rents a house but owns car, divorced with 1 son.”

“Woman, born in 1983, 163 cm tall, master’s degree in marketing and communications @ Fudan University, Shanghainese, salary 9000 yuan per month, looking for a man with own apartment, own car, university degree, and an excellent salary.”

“Woman, born in 1983. 158 cm tall. Student at the Jiao Tong University, she worked as an assistant in a big foreign company. Loyal and honest. Very pretty and polite. Her hobbies include ancient Chinese painting and singing. Her parents are employed in a multinational company here in Shanghai and own a house. Her family has strong traditional values. Looking for a man born between 1975 and 1985. Height no less than 1.70 m. Should at least have a college degree. Should be a gentleman.”

Walking around People’s Square, it’s hard not to be amazed that a father or mother could get up in the morning, constantly thinking of finding their son or daughter a spouse as soon as they can.

Please don’t ask too many questions.
No answer would be appropriate.

This is how it works here.

* The “Marriage Market” happens every Saturday and Sunday afternoon from noon till about 5 p.m. at the northern end of People’s Park. The closest metro station is People’s Square Station. To find the Marriage Market, take exit 9 and turn left into the park.

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