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Beef market in China

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Waiting for him to fill her hands with achievements?

Ralph Jennings is a journalist and long time resident of China. He currently lives in Taipei. From mid-2000 to 2006, he had an advice column in the 21st Century weekly newspaper in which he answered letters from thousands of students and young professionals. Below is a letter from the archive, with an introduction by Jennings.

There’s a different kind of meat market in China. Female mate shoppers check out not only a man’s looks, humor and signs that he’ll treat her well. They also look for a bit of beef, as in where’s-the-beef. That means a man’s potential to earn money. Existing personal wealth is part of the cow. Future earning potential is another, or as advice column letter writer N.D. puts it, “achievements.”

Student letters to a foreign agony uncle

Dear Ralph,

I’m a new student at a university. In our class I see a girl who is very beautiful. And I find that many characteristics of hers are like mine. At the beginning I wanted her to become my girlfriend. But I haven’t had any achievements. So I got rid of my idea to pursue her. Do you think I’m right?

N.D., Shanxi

November 2001

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The economics of marriage when there is a growing shortage of women. My advice to the student: Work hard, earn money and save for the lady he will meet later.

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