Concubines Return Riding Capitalism’s Wave of Wealth

A friend of mine sent me a link to an interesting post of China’s Second Wives (concubines). “A 2008 estimate says that Second Wives account for a third of the country’s consumption of luxury products.”

The area Director of JWT North Asia, Tom Doctoroff, answered questions for the piece. He said, “When I ask people how much it costs to maintain a second wife – a trophy concubine – the average I’m told is 50,000RMB (about $7,600US). This isn’t just a girlfriend, this is someone who is kept. And she is displayed as somebody that’s a result of this guy’s power and influence, and access to funds.

However, it wasn’t like that for several decades.

When the Communist Party won the Chinese Civil War and drove Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists from China, Mao announced that women held up half the sky; the practice of bound feet ended and women were considered equal to men for the first time in China’s history.

For thousands of years, the wealthy and powerful in China often had more than one wife and several concubines. The emperor had thousands of concubines.

Between 1949 and 1976, Mao’s goal was to change China by ending the old ways and building a new China that would be stronger and more capable of defending itself from invasions. Mao denounced Confucianism and literally waged a war against Buddhism (and all religions) in China. Mao ended the practice of having concubines too.

The goal to lead China away from its ancient cultural heritage ended after Mao’s death and recently the party had a statue of Confucius erected in Tiananmen Square in an effort to bring back some of the old ways.

Now that China is a hybrid capitalist nation, powerful and wealthy men are collecting concubines (those second wives) again.

However, there is a difference. The legal system in China sees women as equals so women cannot be legally bought and sold. This time, a woman has a choice.

In the embedded YouTube video of the Young Turks, it is mentioned that some wealthy and powerful men in America have concubines too, but in the US, those women are called swingers.

In fact, if a Chinese wife doesn’t approve of her husband having concubines, she now has the freedom to divorce.

Discover Modern Romance in China


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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