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How to marry a billionaire
By Yao Minji

Frank Chen, chairman of a Shanghai-based investment company, usually goes to work in his tailor-made suit and customized Jaguar XJ.

The 32-year-old businessman has been pushed by his parents to find a wife since he broke up with a girlfriend three years ago. He has since then been on a few blind dates introduced by mutual acquaintances.

He specifically asked the information about his personal wealth be withheld from the women, preferring to be described as a "well-off white-collar professional who's ready to settle down and start a family."

For those blind dates, he switches to polo shirts and drives a Volvo S60 to "look elite but not overloaded with money."

Chen, like many other rich men looking for wives, is worried about running into a gold digger.

"I already have beautiful girls around me and I like them, but I won't marry them. I'm looking for a good woman, good wife and good mother to my children," he tells Shanghai Daily, on condition that his full Chinese name and other details not be disclosed.

Chen, who comes from a wealthy family, wanted to make his own money and didn't depend on his parents when he started out after university. When his business wasn't doing well and he didn't plan to buy a house, his girlfriend broke up with him. She is sorry now and tried to get back together four times. But Chen learned his lesson.

Now he's wary of gold diggers.

His requirements - good woman, good wife, good mother - are not too different from those of other rich men, according to Wendy Dai, senior consultant at China Entrepreneurs' Club for Singles, a high-end matchmaking company targeting rich men.

The annual membership fee for this newly founded Guangzhou-based company is 200,000 yuan (US$31,410). To qualify, a candidate must be single, over 30 and have personal assets in excess of 100 million yuan or he must be chairman of a large enterprise.

It has 35 members and the number is rising.

"They want women to have good looks, figures, manners and characters. And most important, they have to be serious about getting married. These guys are looking for good wives, not just pretty faces," Dai tells Shanghai Daily in a telephone interview.

Experienced matchmakers sum up rich men's requirements in a phrase, tian su chun, which means "sweet, simple and innocent," implying that woman should have a lovely smile, minimal materialistic demands and minimal previous relationships (preferably a virgin).

"My dream is to marry a 20-year-old when I turn 40. And, of course, I want to marry a sweet virgin who always looks up to me, who knows how to enjoy a good life but doesn't ask for expensive gifts all the time, and who can take good care of my kids," says a 39-year-old, Beijing-based CEO, who is very affluent.

He requested anonymity. "A calculating, materialistic woman is the last I want for my family."

This is where VIP one-on-one matchmaking services come in. These high-end services usually charge men from 10,000 yuan to more than 500,000, interview the men in depth to determine the right kind of women, and they hold private, get-acquainted parties in pleasant surroundings.

The 39-year-old CEO just attended a party and is dating the recommended candidate.

Prior to the party, he gave the matchmaker a three-page list of specific qualities he wanted in his future wife, including the height and weight range, measurements, education degree and major field of study, previous relationships, parents' background and employment, whether there are poor relations (who might insist on his help), and so on.

"It's like shopping for a fridge. I know what I want, but I just don't have any time to spare for browsing through all the different brands and different models. Like my business, I want this done efficiently and scientifically," the CEO explains.

All three of the largest matchmaking online services in China have launched VIP sections targeting rich men who don't have the time or contacts to find a good wife.

The China Entrepreneurs' Club for Singles recently held major screening events that drew many hopeful women in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu.

More than 12,000 applied. Some 20-year-olds were accompanied by their mothers. They went through ten rounds of interviews and checks, including a session with a cosmetic surgeon to determine whether they are "natural" beauties. They were challenged for intellect, maturity and thoughtfulness. They were also checked on whether they knew about running a household, could make a bed or tie a necktie.

They also talked with a psychologist to determine if they were serious about marriage, what kind of marriage they wanted; these sessions also probed their previous relationships and whether they lied about them, as well as how they felt about money and whether they were marrying primarily for money.

In Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, a face reader was hired to ensure there were no features that signified bad luck for their future husbands. For example, a woman with high cheek bones is considered misfortune.

Some features that are desirable in a man, indicating strong character, are undesirable in a woman.

Their documents are also checked - residence permit, identification card, work ID, drivers license, diplomat and other. The company representatives also visit the young woman's home and interview her parents to determine how she was reared and what her parents' background is.

In late July, 24 selected women finally met 16 wealth men at a five star hotel in Sanya of Hainan Province.

"Eight couples are dating and one is already at the stage of meeting the parents," matchmaker Dai adds. "Our target is clear - to find the right match for our customers. We get both positive and negative reviews from the public, but we are not pressured by these comments."

Courses on how to win the hearts of rich men are also offered. A class that claims to teach women how to marry multimillionaires and costs more than 10,000 yuan has attracted a dozen students in Chengdu, capital city of southwestern China's Sichuan Province. The class, being taught by a 42-year-old woman named Su Fei who says she married a multimillionaire when she was 37, promises to provide opportunities for students to meet rich men.

Rich, good-looking and unmarried Frank Chen in Shanghai - who dresses down to polo shirts and drives a Volvo on dates - says such VIP matchmaking, intrusive screenings and parties are ridiculous in their core concepts. This virtual prince charming still goes on blind dates arranged by acquaintances.

Such events are welcome by many other wealthy guys. The company launched its second event yesterday in Beijing, applied by more than 2,700 women.

"It's ridiculous to try to find a sweet, simple and innocent girl through services or screening like these. Such girls don't really go to this kind of service," he says.

"I think those who go to these kind of high-end parties are all gold diggers. I don't like ambitious women."

Aileen Yu, 24, has been to a few such parties and dated three men on VIP blind dates. She was dumped by her ex-boyfriend precisely for being "too ambitious."

"Since when is 'ambitious' a bad word?" she asks. "I think I'm the perfect partner for a wealthy, highly educated and intellectual guy who needs a woman to back him. My life goal is to become a good wife and mother. My mother taught me this since I was little."

Yu holds a bachelor's degree from a prestigious university in Beijing and has interned and worked in financial institutions. She's a good cook and knows how to clean house and run a household. She has taken classes on child psychology.

Friends say she's trying too hard and her mother is pushy about early marriage.

"What's wrong with wanting to love a rich guy?" Yu says. "I'm young, pretty and smart and I deserve someone who can match me, and he will end up being a successful and wealthy man anyway."

(Shi Xiaoguang contributed to the story.)

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