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December 9, 2009
Chinese matchmakers send Santarinas to find college girls

Photo: Guangdong Daily.

Photo: Guangdong Daily

Hsin-Yin Lee, a former associate producer at Worldfocus, is a news editor at the “China Times” in Taipei.

In fairy tales, the young, rich, handsome prince sends out messengers across the kingdom to look for his girl of destiny. However, if he did so today in China, the crowds will definitely give him a hard time.

Earlier this month, a matchmaking company in China’s Guangdong province had some employees dress as Santarinas — in red Christmas outfits and go-go boots– and march to a college campus. Their mission: to find out “innocent and good-looking” college girls as companions for the company’s clients.

According to the leaflets distributed to the students, the clients not only look like “Korean soap opera stars” but also fit the criteria of China’s “rich second generation”– wealthy, young males born in the 80s.

The stunt, however, backfired. Government officials made statements to condemn such conduct, and college authorities said they will call security if similar campaigns take place again. Furious netizens also flooded into online forums to condemn the rich and young.

“Chairman Mao would burst into tears if he saw this,” an Internet user said, “the Western materialism we used to fight against is back now– with cheers!”

Even the target audience didn’t find the campaign appealing.

“Who do these fops think they are,”  a girl told the local Guangzhou Daily, “some emperor in Ching Dynasty?”

To many, the rising “rich second generation” epitomizes China’s social injustice. According to Forbes’ “China’s 400 Richest” list published last month, many of the wealthiest people in China are younger than 35 years old. These young billionaires are the children of China’s earliest entrepreneurs and inherited a lot of fortune through family-owned businesses.

But for their peers, it’s another story. According to research, most young people in China– who call themselves the “tribe of ants”–  earn an average of $150-$370 each month. Most of them are struggling to live alone instead of sharing with three other roommates, and only seven percent are married.

So did the Chinese public overreact? I don’t think so. I think this time, the prince really hit a nerve.

– Hsin-Yin Lee

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