A website promoting young adults seeking financial aid from older, rich men has come under fire from one of China’s official mouthpieces, Global Times.
Describing itself as an online dating service, a website called SeekingArrangement has been accused of sexualizing and exploiting women on Chinese social media.
Global Times criticized the website’s advertising campaign that it said promotes large-scale part-time girlfriends or kept women and urged China to reject the foreign-owned enterprise.
The website registered its business in the Shanghai free trade zone. According to a local media report, SeekingArrangement registered a local company under the names of Wey Kim Long and Wey Ting, the same last name as founder Brendon Wade, a Singaporean-American whose original name is Wey Leed.
The parent company of the Shanghai setup was W8 Tech, a company registered in Hong Kong since 2012 and responsible for the app design for SeekingArrangement.
Local media noted the website took out the words “sugar daddy” and “sugar baby” and replaced them with the more subtle “high-end group,” “successful business guy” and “charming baby.”
On its homepage, the company claimed to have a customer base of 10 million in 139 countries and said it had full autonomy of its brand and asked the media not to be misled by the reports. It claimed it had offices in Las Vegas, Hong Kong and Cyprus.
“SeekingArrangement.com is strictly a dating platform, not a ‘pay as you go’ website as alleged in recent news articles. These accusations are concerning and not in any way an accurate portrayal of the site or its members,” the company said in an email to Asia Times.
“SeekingArrangement was founded based on a principal deeply rooted in Chinese culture, that women seek out men who can provide for the family. This was reiterated to our founder and CEO by his Chinese mother, who assured him that if he worked hard to achieve success in his career, he would also enjoy success in his romantic life,” said the company.
The company said it had a team keeping escorts, prostitutes and under-age people and others who violated their terms of service and code of conduct off the social network.
“We do not condone any illegal activity, and we take active measures to protect the integrity of both our site and our members,” it said. “SeekingArrangement is a place for adults seeking mutually beneficial relationships, and we believe everyone deserves to create romance on their own terms.”
SeekingArrangement will be a good test of how open China really is.