Modern Romance in China – Part 1/2

December 10, 2010

There is a saying in China that, “Where there’s love, there is a way.”

However, for some, it isn’t that easy. High paid white-collar jobs in China are demanding and leave little time for romance.

However, with western style romance novels and romantic movies leading the way, hearing the word “love” is becoming common but there are other challenges to overcome.

Although China’s open economy has made many people rich, “love” is still a hard word to say since most Asians are more reserved than westerners are.

“Romance Chinese Style” is a film by first-time director Maggie Gu that takes a close look at the romance industry in China that is helping to overcome this shortage of time and abundance of shyness.

Al Jazeera English reports on Maggie Gu’s film and looks at on-line dating, blind dates, double dates, and speed dating that have become popular in China today.

Since China opened to the West, it is a country in a hurry. Where cars replaced bicycles, fashionable outfits replaced Mao uniforms, the pursuit of romance replaced Party loyalty.

Along the way, in 2007, China’s first speed dating club opened its doors.

In fact, speed dating originated in the US, but the idea traveled to China where for a small fee speed dating takes place over the Internet leading to digital love.

This service allows busy members of China’s growing upper-middle class to meet potential mates, and since many Chinese find it difficult to express their feelings freely, there are new schools where these wealthy professionals discover how to express themselves in the language of romance.

Go to Modern Romance in China – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Cinema Romance Gaining Popularity in China

December 9, 2010

Romance is in the air in China’s cinemas, and Tom Carter showed us how the Western Romeo and Juliet concept of romance got its start in China in 1995 when Harlequin (US  Romance publisher) received permission “to bring romance to millions of Chinese women”.

That beginning grew to more than a thousand romance novels written by mainland Chinese authors last year.

The growing interest in fictional romance has also spilled seriously into mainland Chinese film.

Cfensi (a source for Chinese entertainment news) says that recently, modern day romance movies in China have taken off. “Cinema goers in China want the choice of light-hearted entertainment from the cinema, and the Chinese film industry is rapidly accommodating that niche in the market.”


Interview with Tony Leung, who often plays the leading man in movies with beautiful actresses.

In fact, one star benefiting from this demand for romance may be “Tony Leung (who) has been called the Clark Gable of Asia, and it’s not hard to see why: he’s handsome, with the enviable frame of a man who can put on anything knowing it will both flatter him and fit him.” Source: The Times.uk

Then Tiger Cinema offers a list of Chinese Romance movies with links to “try now”. The titles for a few of these movies are revealing: If You Are the One, Some Like It Hot, All About women, L For Love – L For Lies, Call For Love, and My DNA Says I Love You.

The summary for If You Are the One says, “A story about love in comical situations depicts how difficult it often is to find the right person, but also how often we don’t realize it when love hits us at the most unexpected times.”

Cfensi says, “With China’s total box office up 44% in 2009, and 1.65 cinema screens added per day, with no signs of slowly down, this should only be one sign to look forward to of the growing diversification of China’s rapidly rising film industry.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Harlequin Romance Invades China

December 8, 2010

Guest Post by Tom Carter

Growing up in a rural, slate-roofed village deep in the countryside of southeast China, the only English books my Chinese fiancée had to read back then were a brittle copy of Tess of the d’Urbervilles and a set of Harlequin novels.

Yes, I’m talking about Harlequin, those pulpy paperbacks found on revolving wire racks at supermarket checkout aisles across North America and the UK.  Their enticing cover art – usually, nay, always featuring shirtless, square-jawed men hovering millimeters away from the glistening-red lips of a damsel in distress – and formulaic flirt/fight/fall-in-love storylines mercilessly targeted housewives and secretaries longing for a 200-page escape from the dirty diapers and pot-bellied husbands of their mid-life realities.

As it turns out, it was by reading books like “Stormy Voyage” by Sally Wentworth and Roberta Leigh’s “Two-Timing Man” (bought used for 7 RMB out of a sidewalk vendor’s book cart), amongst other Harlequin classics, that my fiancée managed to teach herself English (which explains her tendency to throw her head back dramatically whenever we kiss).

Curious how Harlequin, the forbidden fruit of literature, could be found anywhere in a Communist republic that has the world’s most strict state-sponsored vetting process for publications, I was surprised to learn that in 1995 (about when my fiancée found her copies) Harlequin received official, red star-stamped permission to place half a million copies of twenty titles in Mandarin and a quarter-million copies of ten English versions on the shelves of Xinhua.

Harlequin’s stated goal: “to bring romance to millions of Chinese Women.”

A China.org article on the increasing popularity of romance books in the P.R.C. concurred with Harlequin’s audacious move: “Chinese women today have new demands for their Prince Charming: first, he must be powerful and distinguished…next, he must unlimited financial resources.” 

Wosai!  No wonder China has become home to the world’s highest surplus of single men!

Harlequin, which puts out 1,500 new titles annually in over 100 international markets, has yet to think up a romance set in present-day China (Possible storyline: wealthy, second-generation Beijing businessman seduces sexy xiaojie with his shiny black Audie, pleather man-purse and a thick stack of redbacks; he agrees to save her Anhui village from being bulldozed by corrupt cadres if she will become his kept woman.). 

Until that day, we will have to entertain ourselves with stories set in China’s olden times starring princesses and concubines.

Discover China’s Sexual Revolution

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Travel Photographer Tom Carter traveled for 2 years across the 33 provinces of China to show the diversity of Chinese people in China: Portrait of a People, the most comprehensive photography book on modern China published by a single author.

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China’s Sexual Revolution – Part 2/5

July 15, 2010

According  to a 2004 survey, only  twenty percent of Chinese men know where to find the clitoris, while fifty percent of Chinese women haven’t had an orgasm. Sexual ignorance and dysfunction is common. Mao’s Cultural Revolution left invisible scars.

China also has a new, popular holiday, Valentine’s Day. On February 14, cupid and roses have become fashionable.  Nightclubs hold Valentine’s festivals where  couples meet, drug use is common and kissing leads to sex.

Private businesses that cater to romance and sex are flourishing in China.  Some shops are a cross between a sexual education center that also sells adult sex toys. In Beijing, there are an estimated five thousand sex shops and business is booming.  This industry is worth billions.

When the first graphic sex Blog came online, the server crashed and was down for days. When the government censors shut down a sex Blog, more replace it.

Return to Part 1 of China’s Sexual Revolution or go to Part 3

 View as Single Page

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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