Chinese millionaire women on a mission to find Mr Right
A global manhunt has been launched in China on behalf of 36 female millionaires who have made fortunes from their country's economic boom but have failed to find love.
Johnny Du, the chief executive of the online dating company 51Taonan.com (IWantAMan.com), kicked off his quest last month and aims to find suitable husbands for some of the most eligible women in modern China.
They include real estate magnates and manufacturing tycoons from Sichuan province who have been unable to find Mr Right despite, or perhaps because of, their ballooning bank balances.
"I believe this is the first time (there has been such a scheme) only tailored for wealthy women," Mr Du said this week during a visit to Shanghai.
Dating is big business in China, a country that is reputedly home to 180 million single people. Early this year, the founder of one of China's biggest online dating sites -- Baihe.com -- told local television that his company was making annual profits of around £20m (€25.2m) from its 36 million registered users.
But in a country notorious for a dramatic gender imbalance that has condemned millions of men to a single life, most matchmaking agencies focus on fixing the love lives of Chinese men.
Even the government sees helping men find love as a priority. Last month the 'People's Daily' newspaper warned that "social harmony and stability" could be threatened if millions of rural men were unable to find partners.
Rebecca Chen, who at 29 is one of the youngest Chengdu-based millionaires to sign up for Mr Du's project, said social norms hampered a rich woman's search for a match.
"Men have a much higher success rate (in finding love) and a much broader selection, since they can choose someone from a lower social group," said Ms Chen, whose family controls a Chengdu property and hotel empire.
"For women, it is almost impossible to choose downwards -- their family and friends would not approve."
About 1,500 men have signed up, according to Mr Du. A shortlist of 100 will be invited on a trip to Chengdu on August 23, China's Valentine's Day, for dinner dates with the 36 women. (© Daily Telegraph, London)