After publishing a “blind date guidebook” and new rules for marriage ceremonies this year, China’s Communist Youth League has begun organizing blind date events in which participants go through ideological screening and social training before meeting.
The Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times says the mass blind dating events are meant to impose the “correct attitude” on marriage and romance in Chinese youth and give communists a safe way to ensure their prospective mates meet their standard of ideological rigor and social status before embarking on a relationship.
The events also intend to address the growing number of single millennial men in the country—a product both of cultural factors and the recently modified one-child policy, which saw many women abort their daughters and refuse to bring a child to term who was not male. Chinese officials appear increasingly alarmed at the potential of unmarried men becoming embittered and acting against the state.
“We aim to combat the single population issue,” a Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL) official identified as Wang Jun told the Global Times. “There is a large demand for partners among young people. As we now live in a highly mobile society and as young people are delaying their entry into society, this generation faces more problems in finding lovers than those from the previous generation.”
Wang’s chapter of the CCYL organized an invite-only mass dating event this month targeting young communists seeking a partner in life. Wang noted that policemen do especially well with single women at these events “because policemen fulfill women’s fantasy of having a strong man to protect them,” though a prior Chinese state media article claimed that “irregular working hours earn journalists and police officers a lower ranking in the marriage market.”
The official added that the party seeks to impose “mendang hudui,” which the Times describes as “an ancient concept meaning marriage should be between families of equal economic and social status.”
Conversely, Wang noted that trusting one’s romantic life to the Communist Party also meant that all candidates at mass dating events were heavily pre-screened for criminal or counter-revolutionary tendencies, which allows single women to feel more comfortable in trusting who they meet. “This avoids the problem of getting matched with shady characters,” the Global Times suggests.
The Global Times noted that women appeared more likely to sign up to such events even though China boasts more single men: “China is set to have 30 million ‘left-over’ men over 35 by the [sic] 2030, women dominate the urban blind dating scene.”
The event in Zhejiang is among the first organized by a new special wing of the Communist Youth League dedicated to “helping single young people in the province find mates” that debuted in June, according to the Times. In addition to organizing mass dating events, the Communist Youth League department would set up a website—to be used only by approved eligible communist single people—for planning dates and finding fellow singles.
The Communist government appears to be attempting to usurp a responsibility that, for generations, fell into the hands of Chinese parents. Another state-run media outlet, the People’s Daily, suggested this month that Chinese parents were failing at the responsibility to ensure an appropriate marriage for their children.
“According to a July report by news.ifeng.com, parents in Beijing who wish to find their children a spouse have set strict requirements for candidates, including high income, ownership of a well-located apartment, a good education background, and a Beijing hukou,” the People’s Daily reported. A hukou is a sort of domestic passport that determines where a Chinese citizen can live within the nation’s borders. The newspaper goes on to call the price of a wedding “unaffordable and irrational.”
The Chinese government may be protesting the traditional marriage role of parents today, but the communist system has spent decades trying to erode the strength of the family as an institution. Mao Zedong’s “New Marriage Law” annulled millions of marriages on the grounds that they would have violated the law had it existed when they occurred due to parents arranging the marriage or dowries exchanged. No marriages occurred without the approval of the Chinese Communist Party, which needed to ensure only people of the same “political stand” married.
The imposition of the “One-Child Policy” in 1979, which forced families to abort any child after their first, also destroyed the potential of creating large families, which could foster loyalty among relatives stronger than loyalty to the Communist Party. It also created a significant gender gap in the current generation of young single people, as families aborted their daughters and kept their sons.