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CCTV: Bride Prices in China Are Sky-High

Getting married is a costly affair in China. Especially in China’s rural areas, men are expected to pay staggering prices to their bride’s family before marriage.

Manya Koetse

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Getting married is a costly affair in China. Especially in China’s rural areas, families on the men’s side are expected to pay staggering prices to the bride’s family before marriage.

Earlier this week, news of a pregnant woman forced into abortion by her father after her husband-to-be could not afford her bride price became trending on Sina Weibo. The father of the bride wanted him to pay 200,000 RMB (30,680 US$) to get married to his daughter.

Bride prices are a long-standing tradition in China. A ‘bride price’ is an amount of money or goods paid by the groom’s family to the bride’s family upon marriage. Since China’s gender imbalance has made it more difficult for men to find a bride, the ‘bridewealth’ prices have gone up drastically. This holds especially true for the poorer, rural areas in China.

CCTV’s TV programme News 1+1 explores the bride price phenomenon in their programme about the ‘price of love’.

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According to CCTV, the bride price phenomenon has changed significantly over the past fifty years. During the 1950s, the ‘bridewealth’ would mostly consist of some material items such as a thermos bottle or bedding. In later decades, this changed to more costly things such as furniture, radio’s, watches, or a sewing machine.

But in the rural areas of contemporary China, the bride price is now all about hard cash. In some places, like in Shandong province, it is common for the bride’s family to ask for more than 100,000 RMB (15,340 US$) before their daughter marries – a staggering figure for average rural households in Shandong province.

According to sociologist Zhang Yi (张翼), who was interviewed by CCTV, rising bride prices have three major reasons. The first is China’s gender imbalance, that has caused a surplus in men, making it statistically more difficult for them to find a wife. The second reason has to do with the population division in China – the majority of China’s single, young men live in the rural areas, whereas the majority of China’s single young women live in the bigger cities. It has caused a highly competitive marriage market, where the bride’s families can ask for a high price. The third reason is the growing trend of the so-called “bride price culture”, where many families now feel a low bride price means losing face – if one’s daughter or future wife is ‘too cheap’ it is generally seen as a bad thing, both by the bride’s side as the groom’s.

According to Zhang Yi, is is highly unlikely that bride prices will go down in the decade to come.

On Weibo, not all netizens seem convinced that CCTV’s conclusion about the sky-high bride prices is realistic: “I’m from the countryside, but I’ve never heard about sky-high bride prices,” one netizen comments.

Another Weibo user says: “Where I’m from, the bride price is used to take back home and is considered the “start-up capital” (启动资金) for the new family.”

Some netizens see the sky-high bride prices as a serious problem: “Authorities should standardise bride prices, based on the average income of the locals. Whoever exceeds the standardised price should be punished by law as a human trafficker,” one netizen writes.

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Media

Lost in Translation? UBS’s “Chinese Pig” Comment Stirs Controversy

“Chinese pig” – much ado about nothing or an insulting remark?

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A report by the UBS titled “Very Normal Inflation” caused controversy on Chinese social media on Thursday for containing the term “Chinese pig.”

The UBS, a Swiss multinational investment bank, published the article on consumer price inflation on June 12. The author, economist Paul Donovan, wrote: “Chinese consumer prices rose. This was mainly due to sick pigs. Does it matter? It matters if you are a Chinese pig.” The same text also appeared in a podcast on inflation in China.

Global Times (环球时报), a Chinese and English language media outlet under the People’s Daily newspaper, lashed out against the USB for its “insulting” and “discrimatory” remarks.

Many netizens agreed with the Global Times, and see the “Chinese pig” remark as a joke with a double meaning, assuming that Donovan was both talking about pigs in China, as well as insulting Chinese people.

Some people suggest that if Donovan did not intend to make a pun, he could have written “it matters if it is a pig in China” instead. They argue that UBS and Donovan could have avoided using the term to begin with, and intentionally wrote it up like this to insult Chinese people.

There are also social media users who come to Donovan’s defense. Author Deborah Chen (陈叠) writes on Weibo that she has known Paul for a long time and that she knows him as a straightforward and humorous commentator. “There is just one kind of translation for ‘pigs of China’ (中国的猪) and ‘Chinese pigs’ (中国猪) in English,” she says: “If you look at the context, you’ll see he’s talking about farm animals, and is not humiliating the people of the nation.”

On Weibo, multiple people called the reactions to the article “overly sensitive.”

A commenter nicknamed “Taxpayer0211809” wrote: “The way I understood is just that China’s consumer prices have inflated and that this is because of the swine fever. Is this thing important? It is important if you are a pig in China, or if you like eating pork, for the rest of the world there won’t be a big influence.”

Shortly after the controversy erupted, the UBS and Donovan sent their apologies, which were also published by Global Times:

But some Chinese web users did not accept those apologies. One Chinese author wrote there was nothing “innocent” about the remarks made.

The article in question has since been removed from the USB website.

 
Also read: Bulgari’s Noteworthy New China Marketing Campaign on a Happy ‘Jew’ Year of the Pig (Zhu)
 

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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On 30th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Protests, Weibo Completely Cracks Down on the T-Word

The T-word is the taboo subject, but not for the State Office.

Manya Koetse

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Nobody can mention the T-word on social media this week, except for the State Council Information Office.

It is the time of the year that censorship on Chinese internet intensifies, and this year the date carries even more weight, as it marks the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen student protests that started in April 1989 and ended with the violent crackdown on June 4th of that year.

What is noticeable about this anniversary on Weibo this year? Whereas certain combinations of ‘Tiananmen’ together with ‘protests’ or ‘6.4’ are always controlled on the social media site, searching for the Chinese word ‘Tiananmen’ now only shows a series of media posts about the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China (#庆祝新中国成立70年#).

The posts all come from Chinese (state) media outlets and mention the word ‘Tiananmen’ in it, with different state media outlets all posting the same post after the other starting from Monday night local time (e.g. one posts at 19:35, the other at 19:36, 19:45, etc).

The post is a press release from the State Council Information Office that for the first time now shares the official logo to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The logo is the number “70” and the National Emblem of the People’s Republic of China, which contains in a red circle a representation of Tiananmen Gate and the five stars of the national flag. The word ‘Tiananmen’ is mentioned twice in the official state media Weibo posts.

Earlier on Monday, shortly before the press release, searching for ‘Tiananmen’ on Weibo showed that there were over 18 million posts containing the word ‘Tiananmen,’ but when clicking the results page, it suddenly showed that there were “no results” at all, suggesting a complete shutdown of searches for this term.

The hashtag page for #Tiananmen# (#天安门#) also comes up with zero results at time of writing.

For more on this subject, also read: Tiananmen Without the Tanks – The 1980s China Wants to Remember and the interview with musician Jeroen den Hengst, who was in Beijing in 1989.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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