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How to Marry a Chinese Billionaire

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You wouldn’t think a man with a billion in the bank—of any currency—would have trouble finding a mate, but in China’s closed society, the burgeoning billion-yuan set has turned to dating competitions to find suitable spouses.

According to the website China.org.cn, more than 2,800 women gathered in the southern city of Guangzhou to meet, and possibly marry, a group of 11 men purportedly worth a billion yuan or more—or just less than $160 million. After being selected for age (no older than 28), height, natural beauty and (yes) even their virginity, the pool of women was reduced to 320.

The women were also asked to recite poetry and were quizzed on geography and other facts.

Just 28 of the 320 who showed up will be presented to the billionaire bachelors next month, according to the event’s organizers, a matchmaking company.

Many in China, though, have questioned the authenticity of the search, suspecting it is a publicity stunt. The competitors have complained that they have yet to be introduced to a marriageable man, and cast doubt on whether the billionaire bait is real.

Should the matchmakers have to produce live prospects, yuan billionaires won’t be hard to find. According to the 2010 Hurun Wealth Report, some 1,900 billionaires now live in China, up from 1,000 the year before, and only 24 a decade ago. Their average age was 39 years, and they were male by a ratio of 7:3.

Wealthy Chinese men report anecdotally that meeting women is more difficult in China than elsewhere. The government’s population reduction policies have had the effect of skewing the population strongly male; one study in 2009 showed that male births outnumber females 119 to 100.

Accordingly, the Chinese have long regarded matchmaking as a necessary measure. At the dawn of the country’s era of economic liberation in the early 1980s, Communist authorities held “night dancing parties” for singles and sponsored marriage introduction services.

Even then, according to contemporary reports in the state-run press, both sexes’ unrealistic expectations were the stumbling block. Men wanted women who looked like actresses, and women wanted “well-built, well-educated” guys with “a good profession”—requirements that were deemed “out of fairyland.”

These days, the organized gold diggers are more realistic. "I would be lying if I said that I may fall in love with a 50-year-old rich man," a women who took part in Sunday's event said. "Obviously I will fall in love with the money he has."