Some 200 "leftover" men and women gathered for a speed-dating activity organized by civil affairs authorities during the weekend at Chongwenmen, after a recent report revealed more than 30 percent of women surveyed in Beijing consider themselves "leftover."
The report, released by dating website jiayuan.com on March 7, said 37.3 percent of Beijing women, out of 4,027 surveyed, see themselves as "leftover," and their "loneliness index" is the third highest in China, following Shanghai and Sichuan Province.
"I'm 27 and haven't got a boyfriend yet, which worries me and my family," said a woman, surnamed Mao, at the speed-dating event at New World Women's Department Store in Chongwenmen, Xicheng district.
"I felt extremely lonely on Valentine's Day, with all my friends gone out and me home alone," she said.
The dating activity was held by the Marriage and Family Work Committee with the China Association of Social Workers, and included games and an eight-minute face-to-face chat. Seven pairs were successfully matched in the two-day speed dating event.
"Many young people have a small social circle. Some of them stay home after work and some are just too shy, leading to the problem of leftover women," said Hao Pengfei, director of the committee.
While there is much talk of leftover women, particularly online, proposals from deputies at the two sessions, meetings of China's top legislators currently taking place in Beijing, have brought the "leftover men" issue to the spotlight.
"Leftover women is not a real problem, but men being left over is the key issue," Li Jianxin, a sociology professor at Peking University, said during the meetings. Many women are leftover because of the choices they make, but men become leftover because of limiting conditions, Li explained, according to the Guangzhou Daily.
The gender imbalance has been widely discussed during the two sessions. According to the report, experts estimated that by the year 2020, the number of men at the age for marriage, which is normally between 20 and 45, will be 30 million more than that of women.
Statistics from the fifth national population census show that the average sex ratio in China is 117, which means that for every 100 female newborns, there will be 117 males.
Jing Tiankui, deputy to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said the leftover men issue could disturb social order and lead to problems such as an increase in the marriage trade (paying for introductions), human trafficking and affairs, the report said.
"Women are leftover because of their certain life attitude, or being picky in relationships and in marriage. Men being left over are just facts," said Xia Xueluan, a sociologist with Peking University.
The sex imbalance is largely due to the conflict between China's family planning policy and the personal wishes of parents, he said.
"But if the leftover men can expand their social circle, for example looking for wives in rural areas, it might be easier," he noted.
"We shouldn't say women are too demanding now," said Xu Ying, a PhD student in Beijing.
"If women are more highly educated, their standards will be raised. It's not only happening in China, but also in Western countries," she said.
Jason Chen, who works in a Beijing bank, agrees that men may get leftover in big cities, as they ought to still bear the lion's share of costs in a relationship.
"I don't think women are too picky, it's related to their attitude toward marriage," he said, "especially if the man they choose can't satisfy them materially and spiritually.
Mao failed to find a man at the speed dating event.
"I'm not being picky," she said, "but many men have misunderstandings about us. They think women are gold diggers who care about nothing apart from money. But that's not true," she said.
"I'll come next time," she said, "hopefully it will help me find my Mr Right."