If someone told me five years ago that I would one day publish a Valentines-themed cover story, I might have spontaneously ejected some bile from my gut. Yet, here we are.
But fear not, cynical readers, no soppy tales shall be regaled here. Instead, we look at some of the alternative faces of modern courting – Karoline Kan meets a Jiangxi man jilted by his mail-order bride (page 40), Jamie Fullerton speaks to the gay couples using apps to set-up sham marriages (page 44), and Dominic Ngai profiles a selection of young singles with differing views on what it means to be unmarried (page 46).
Although over 3 million Chinese couples now file for divorce annually, there are over 13 million weddings every year too. It’s all a matter of perspective. So we are, by no means, saying that these three stories provide a complete picture of marriage in today’s China. Instead, they act to put a distinctly modern twist on an ancient institution. Changes in demographics, technology and social norms are transforming the way people live and love.
But more to the point, Valentines Day should be a time for single people to complain about commercialization, not to revel in other people’s happiness. If our cover story is unable to appease your disillusionment, then you’ll be pleased to hear that we experienced very little Valentines contagion. The rest of the issue is pretty romance-free (although Dominique Wong’s guide to lesser-known art spaces, on page 34, could double up as inspiration for dates).
Elsewhere in the magazine:
Photographer Lukas von Rantzau talks about his journeys across China’s high-speed rail network ahead of Chinese New Year (page 10);
Marianna Cerini brings you her who’s-who of China’s social media landscape (page 20);
Andrew Chin interviews one of Canada’s most exciting bands, Metz (page 28);
And Noelle Mateer visits a copycat of Jing-A (a bar in which she spends an unhealthy amount of time), as well as bringing you her characteristically snarky round-up of the month’s food and drink openings.
From Dongzhimen with love,