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According to a study from the University of Kent, in ten years China will have approximately 24 million unmarried Chinese men who cannot find wives. That’s more than the current female populations of Taiwan and South Korea combined, to give it some context.

However, in the big cities like Shanghai, there seems to be much more single woman than single man. They can be described as 3S lady – Single, Seventies, Stuck, or the SAS lady – Single, attractive, successful. 

You might wondering why these nice woman become the leftovers? It has something to do with the ABCD rule in Chinese culture, and this  is the secret behind everything:

A type means the best in the market, and it then follows with B, C, D types.

So the ABCD rule goes like that:

A man looking for B woman

B man looking for C woman

C man looking for D woman

Then you have A woman and D man, they are pretty hard to match, right?

Every Saturday and Sunday, at the Shanghai marriage market, parents, with or without their children’s consent, arrange meetings, dates and potential matches for their kids. Some children, often too busy working to devote time to meeting a soul mate, accept their parents’ help. But its not easy even for a parent, and many also employ matchmakers. 

Matchmakers broker meetings for numerous clients usually charging RMB 10-20 per pairing. “I’ve been a matchmaker for three years,” says Mr Zheng “There’s no large payment up front. If you get married, I expect a nice gift and maybe an invitation to attend the wedding. I already represent two American men. Interested?” Even then, matching people long term, especially with the famously strong-willed Shanghainese women, can be difficult. “I’ve been here a long time,” muses Mr Fu, a local matchmaker. “Girls in Shanghai are strong these days. Although they don’t have as much trouble finding a man, there are still lots of unmarried girls’ names on my lists.”

The history of the market started in 1996, by a small group of olderly people(less than 20 people) trying to help their kids, later on it was reported by the local media. Now by 2012, it is the largest one in China, with more than 1000 people attending in a day. 

Does it really work? A friend told me a true story.

A 29 years old lady does not have boy friend,  and since she is approching the Expiration Date, 30 in Chinese standard, her father worries a lot.

So on a Saturday, he went all the way to the marriage market, it took him 2 hours by bus because they live far from the city area. By the time he arrived there, the market almost finished. He rushed – almost run into the center, but accidentally he knocked a woman down.

Feeling sorry and embarrassed, he  apologize to her and naturely they had a chat. It turns out she had a son who is also 29 years old. So they agreed to let them meet.

Guess what? After 3 months, their son and daughter are happily married. More amazingly, one works as an accountant, another is a banker. I bet they enjoy counting money together.