Do Vietnamese women really long to marry Chinese men?
A recent CNNGo article ("Chinese men head to Vietnam for the perfect wife") expounded on the recent Internet buzz among Chinese netizens over the percieved willingness of Vietnamese beauties to marry Chinese men. It also described some of the supposed qualities of Vietnamese women that Chinese men had bought into.
They long to escape the poverty in Vietnam, it was claimed. They also suffer low social positions within families, especially as a result of polygamous marriages (not true by the way). And compared to Chinese girls, who are just too demanding, they are gentle and obedient and loyal.
Throw in the fact that there are too many Chinese men for the number of Chinese women out there and the legend of the perfect Vietnamese wife has been spreading on Chinese online forums for some time.
Right. Time to get the honest truth from the source, we think. We spoke to Vietnamese women, and men, to get their say on the issue.
Temptations from overseas
It is true that women from poor areas of Vietnam have been known to marry Chinese, Korean or Taiwanese men, but to say Vietnamese women long to marry them would be news in Vietnam as well. Usually foreign "wife buyers" are poorer, older men from rural areas who cannot land a mate at home. And what respectable woman would long for a man that can't find a woman except by purchasing one?
“We hate Chinese men,” says bank worker P. Ha, 28, on behalf of herself and her friend. But she concedes that marrying into a better life is an opportunity that some find hard to pass up. Seated opposite central Hoan Kiem Lake where many young Vietnamese couples come to walk in circles hand in hand, she explains: “Many Vietnamese girls need money. They have to escape hardship so they get married for money. I feel so sorry for them.”
She relates the same sordid tales of abuse and exploitation that have been circulating in local and foreign media for years, the ones that may force the government to begin regulating the foreign marriage market racket. That will be especially important if, by 2020, China has 24 million excess bachelors, as has been reported, who will be looking overseas to find partners.
Raining menBut "bride paradise" Vietnam is facing the same problem. The male to female birth ratio is up from a normal 106:100 to 120:100 in some provinces of Vietnam. Where will these lonely Vietnamese bachelors look to? Laos, possibly? Or maybe even the West?
According to Pham Van Kien, a 22-year-old male student, “The girls from Western countries are always taller than us so we’re a little under confident.”
Van Kien has no great affinity for China. “They always dominate,” he says, though it should be noted he does not personally know any Chinese. But like his peers he watches a lot of television from China, mostly elaborate costume dramas. Some commentators worry that today’s Vietnamese youth have a better grasp of Chinese feudal history than their own.
Newspapers have also reported that in areas such as northern Hai Phong city, there has been a female exodus to foreign pastures, leaving many bachelors in its wake.
A translated comment by luudicchianh2009 on popular site Vatgia reads, “The relationship between China and Vietnam is an affected one. China always tends to impose challenges and difficulties but Vietnam is strong enough to prevent China's scheming.
What Vietnamese girls are
It’s this cynicism that drives the belief that a girl and her family must be in dire straights before she’d ever marry a Chinese.
“Vietnamese girls are very hard working and will dedicate their life to their family. It’s not right for hard-working girls, after marrying, to have to suffer great unhappiness caused by their husbands," says Ha’s friend Nguyen Thi Ngan, 24.
“I think they (Vietnamese women) prefer Korean men to Chinese men, as they’re richer,” says Nguyen Thi Phuong, a 27-year-old English teacher.
Ha and Ngan don’t agree. Neither are much impressed by Korean or Taiwanese men. “They’re the same. We like Japan, Australia or England. They have a lot of knowledge,” says Ha.
Still, Phuong remains optimistic about why people wed in the first place, “I think many people also marry foreigners for love, not money.”
Perhaps all the myth-making has made people overlook one simple fact: most people, whether Chinese, Vietnamese, Australian or American, just want to settle down with someone with whom they can share a happy life.