Concerns are being raised over user privacy when it comes to matchmaking websites in China. Credit: ThoughtCo.

About 73% of single young Chinese worry about their privacy on match-making websites, according to a recent survey conducted by China Youth Daily and reported by SHINE.

The survey, which polled a total of 1,972 single young Chinese, also found that 66.7% of its respondents are suspicious of the authenticity of user information on the websites.

“Users upload a lot of personal information to the website, including photos and diplomas, so privacy security is very important for these match-making platforms,” 27-year-old Tang Xuan, told the newspaper.

About 78.5% of the respondents suggested the platforms set up special privacy protection mechanisms, while 64.5% proposed strengthening supervision over the platforms.

Match-making websites should be regulated like dating agencies, with similar supervision measures adopted, said Liu Junhai, a law professor with Renmin University of China.

According to the USC US-China Institute, dating in China has changed significantly with the arrival of online dating in the last decade.

Romantic matchmaking was previously done almost exclusively through personal matchmakers, whereas now that process is being steadily replaced by dating sites with compatibility matching algorithms.

Jiayuan and Baihe, China’s most popular dating sites, had around 126 million and 85 million registered users in 2015 (Tinder had about 50 million active users).

In contrast to a slew of popular dating apps in the West that are commonly associated with a casual “hook-up” dating culture, Chinese online dating services are typically used by those in search of lasting connections and relationships — although this gradually may be changing.

Chinese online dating services have grown increasingly popular as they draw on traditional Chinese dating values such as material security and marriage-focused relationships, and expand connections beyond the screen with offline events and relationship counseling services, the report said.

Compatibility expert James Houran, says, “American culture emphasizes individuality whereas Chinese culture places more importance on the community as a collective. Put more simply, an American asks, ‘How does my heart feel?’ whereas a Chinese individual tended to ask, ‘What will other people say?’”

Significant shifts to China’s marriage and dating culture came in 1950 and 1980 with new laws.

The New Marriage Law of 1950 was a radical change that replaced traditional arranged marriages by permitting divorces and requiring that both parties consent to the marriage.

The 1980 Second Marriage Law further enhanced marriage freedom and gender equality in China by protecting women’s interests in domestic violence and divorce. In addition to these laws, China’s Open Door Policy of 1978, which began to expose Chinese to outside cultural influences, further destabilized traditional customs.

More young Chinese took the initiative, many driven by romantic love, to seek potential spouses in their circles through school, work, social gatherings or mutual friends, the report said.

Despite these changes, Chinese parents still have great influence in their children’s romantic lives. The older generation often takes responsibility for arranging blind dates for young adults, but only when they are old enough to be married.

Matchmaking often takes place when Chinese parents ask their personal connections — from close friends to complete strangers — to look for other young singles for them. When an ideal candidate appears, two young singles will be set up by their parents to give them an opportunity to get to know each other at private, group or family dinners.

However, many young Chinese resent their parents attempts to interfere in their romantic life, the report said.

While dating apps and sites have made it easier for users to find a large number of highly-targeted matches and thus widening the dating pool for Chinese singles, negative effects have also arisen.

Chinese dating preferences are relatively material-driven, and many users, especially women, expect to marry someone who is financially secure and successful. Chinese dating apps accordingly ask users personal questions, such as “annual income,” “housing” and “the type of car you own.”

These questions are not only important for the future life of the potential partner, but also for the “face,” 面子, or public image of their family.

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