More Singaporean women are overcoming bias and cultural differences to find love with men from China
Airene Tan finds men from China somewhat self-centred and ambitious,
which she attributes to the country's one-child policy and highly
competitive education system.
That, however, is not stopping the 30-year-old senior designer with a mobile advertising company from marrying one of them.
would say the competitive streak in him is healthy for our relationship
as I prefer someone who has drive," she says of her husband-to-be, IT
specialist Ding Zhuo from Beijing. "I also find him independent and
Ding, 31, who came to Singapore with his parents when he was 11, says Tan changed his view of Singaporean women.
used to think that girls from China are more intellectual. After I got
to know Airene, I realised that Singaporean women can be intellectual
The couple met through a mutual friend in 2002 but began
dating seriously only three years later. Before they got together, Ding
dated a woman from China, while Tan did not date anyone. The couple
wanted to be financially stable before getting married and plan to
register their marriage at the end of this year or early next year.
Theirs is a story that is increasingly common these days.
Singaporean men with mainland Chinese brides are no longer news, more
Singaporean women seem to be marking a new trend by pairing with men
Statistics in the Report on Registration of Births and
Deaths 2012 released by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority last
month show that a small but growing number of babies is being born to
such couples. There were 306 such babies last year, comprising 0.7 per
cent of all births, up from just 64, or 0.1 per cent, in 2000.
This was the most significant jump compared to the number of babies born to Singaporean women and men of other nationalities.
number of Chinese nationals here is estimated to be a few hundred
thousand, including those who have been granted permanent residency or
Experts cite the emergence of Chinese middle-class
professionals as one reason for the rising number of marriages between
Singaporean women and mainland Chinese men.
Although there is no
official data, Professor Gavin Jones, director of the J Y Pillay
Comparative Asia Research Centre at the National University of Singapore
(NUS), says there is a significant number of professionals from China
who have gained permanent resident status or are working here on
For example, the 2010 census found that 61.4 per cent,
or 332,000, of all permanent residents here were ethnic Chinese,
although it did not give a breakdown of how many of them were from
In April last year, a report by NUS academics Brenda Yeoh
and Lin Weiqiang stated that "the majority of skilled contract
workers--apart from Malaysians--are now from China and India".
The report was published in Migration Information Source, a project by independent think-tank Migration Policy Institute.
Jones says: "With such large numbers of professionals from China, this
would increase the pool of potential Chinese husbands for well-educated
Singaporean women who marry foreign husbands
tend to be well-educated, he notes, as single women aged 30 and older
with tertiary qualification here outnumber single men in the same age
group, so some may look elsewhere for a partner.
well-educated Singaporean women tend to marry well-educated
professionals they meet at work or in social situations, or perhaps when
they work or holiday abroad," he says.
Of the eight couples
contacted by SundayLife!, all the Singaporean women hold either a
diploma or a university degree and can speak Mandarin.
The men either attended a university in China or a Western country, or were educated in Singapore.
but one can speak English. Some have lived here for so many years that
they have assimilated well and can even speak Singlish.
But some couples admit that cultural stereotypes proved a stumbling block at first.
These include perceptions of Singaporean women as materialistic and Chinese men as uncivilised and chauvinistic.
instance, Tan says when people find out her boyfriend is from China,
they would make sweeping statements such as, "Oh, he must be a male
chauvinist" or "Is his family back in China poor?"
stereotypes usually crumble as a couple get to know each other better,
but they can deter Singaporean women from befriending Chinese men.
Koh, 38, a Singaporean sales executive and social sciences graduate,
says she will not date a man from China unless they share common
interests and he speaks "some English and is quite localised".
She has yet to meet such a man.
far, most of the mainland Chinese men I have seen are blue-collar
workers. They seem quite loud and prefer to mix with their own people."
Cang Yuan, 27, a mechanical engineering graduate from Jinjiang city in
Fujian province, admits that he tends to hang out more with women from
"But it's not intentional," he says.
The people who take part in clan activities he is involved in tend to be from mainland China.
He came here four years ago to pursue further studies and says he would like to meet more Singaporeans.
"It's good to know more about the people of the country you are living in."
Shi, who spent a year here doing a postgraduate diploma in systems analysis at NUS, now works as a software engineer.
"I find the women here quite friendly. They are also more sociable and worldly than women from mainland China," he says.
women from China tend to be more willing to work hard, maybe not so
much because they are from China, but because they are migrants and feel
they need to prove themselves."
If he were to date a Singaporean,
he would prefer her to be Chinese with a decent command of Mandarin "so
that our cultural and language differences wouldn't be so great".
Singaporean account director Tee Yen Ching, 35, and her Shanghai-born
businessman husband, 45, such differences are negligible.
They met when she went to work in China in 2004 and became friends.
Love blossomed in 2011 and they got married in May. The couple are currently based in Shanghai.
Although her husband does not speak much English, she says language is not an issue as she is fluent in Mandarin.
think it helps us argue less as I'm less quarrelsome when I have to
argue in Mandarin. I am much more sarcastic in English," she quips.
nationality has never been an issue for her. He just happens to be
someone I get along with and want to spend my life with," she says.
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