A recent Chinese propaganda campaign about national security uses a comic called “Dangerous Love” to warn Chinese women not to date foreigners.Li, a college graduate who works for the government, meets red-haired, beak-nosed David, who claims he is an academic, at a friend’s gathering.Many Chinese women have shrugged off the spy warning—but say relationships between Chinese women and foreign men are anything but smooth.It is certainly much more common for Chinese women to date foreign men than in my parents’ generation, thanks to Chinese nationals heading overseas for schools and foreigners flocking to Beijing, Shanghai, and other big cities to learn Mandarin and add Chinese experience to their resumes.It’s not uncommon for parents and grandparents to set their children up on blind dates with suitable matches they’ve found.If their child’s significant other doesn’t meet with the parents’ approval, continuing the relationship will be very difficult.It’s not always about finding love so much as it is about finding a potential marriage partner who fits with one’s own ideals.For example, although many men get married without a house and a car, Chinese women will often say that they’re looking for these things because that’s the sort of person who probably has a stable career and will be able to provide for her and their future children in the long-term. As one contestant on China’s most popular dating show put it, "I’d rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle." Every parent is different, of course, but in general Chinese parents expect to be more involved in their children’s relationships.
More so than Westerners, many Chinese view dating as a pragmatic affair.When she told her father about the German, his response was “Be careful, he may be a spy.” She found later there was absolutely nothing to worry about, as the German showed little knowledge about China. He’s interested in China’s recent history and hopes to discuss it with Sally.But this isn’t a topic Sally feels comfortable talking about.She said her current boyfriend is “too young, too naive” (a reference to a 2000 press conference in which former Chinese president Jiang Zemin criticized a reporter who asked a tough question) thanks to the “one-sided” China news he learned from western media.
Her boyfriend is always reading some “banned stuff” on the internet, she said, and then recklessly talking about it on the street in Shanghai. The “banned stuff” includes the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, the Dalai Lama, Falun Gong, and violence in Muslim-majority Xinjiang region, topics which are heavily censored by the Great Firewall.
The real “danger” of love between a Chinese woman and a foreign man is that it doesn’t ultimately go anywhere, the women I talked to said.