Kathmandu, January 6: A few years ago, it had become trendy for Nepali women to get married to Chinese or Korean men, but the number of such marriages has decreased drastically after reports of abuse of Nepali women.
The number of Nepali-Chinese marriages has dropped after an online report about the difficulties of getting a marriage license in Nepal went viral on the Chinese social network WeChat in February.
Chinese online sites have since last year published several reports of Nepali women being trafficked to China through fake marriages with Chinese men, and the scrutiny of Chinese male applicants for marriage certificates has became much stricter in Nepal.
“It is definitely very difficult to tell whether it is a fake marriage or not, the actual process is decided on a case-by-case basis,” explained Krishna Acharya, Chief District Officer of Lalitpur.
“If applicants are a real couple, they can marry here, there are no restrictions.”
However, Acharya confirmed that the scrutiny procedure is more complicated and stricter compared to the past, mainly because of reports of fake marriages and human trafficking.
These days, besides the standard process, the District Administration in Nepal investigates the economic and social status of the Chinese and Nepali marriage applicants, require police reports, letters from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Chinese Embassy. They also interview witnesses who can confirm that the marriage is real.
The WeChat post based on what a Chinese woman identified only as ‘Chen’ heard from a District Administration Office in Pokhara that there was a moratorium on Nepali women getting married to Chinese men because of reports of rampant abuse.
Even within Nepal, media reports of fake marriages and the abuse of Nepali women in China and Korea have given local people a negative impression of men from the two countries. Chinese and Korean men who want to marry Nepali women are all bracketed as people with bad character who cannot find wives back home, or are regarded as traffickers.
Such negative publicity both in China and Nepal appears to be the reason for the drop in Chinese men getting married to Nepali women.
The Lalitpur District Administration Office ecord of 21 Nepali-Chinese couples from 2013 to 2015. But there are no records of marriage licenses for Nepali-Chinese couples since the office reopened after the earthquake in April 2015.
An official at the Kathmandu District Administration Office said there were even fewer marriage registrations there, and that the drop could be because of media reports exposing the inhuman treatment of Nepali girls by alcoholic or drug-addict Chinese husbands.
Miao Macsim, a 30-year-old Chinese man who owns a jewelry shop in Thamel, says he has detected a change in the perception of Nepali women towards him in recent months.
“I tried really hard to convince my Nepali female friends that I am not here to buy a wife, and that such persons are rare in China and most of Chinese men are kind and well-behaved, but I failed” Miao admitted.
“I guess it is because the only way locals can know about the outside world is through news media and, they assume that all Chinese men are the same.”
Miao said he is fond of his Nepali female friends, and prefers them to Chinese women because they are “more conservative, reticent and family-oriented”.
But he is disappointed that some Nepali women have a preconceived notion that all Chinese men are out to trap them into fake marriages.
Because of the large number of Nepali students now in universities in China, there are growing numbers of young Nepali men getting married to Chinese women. And they have a different sort of problem: getting a resident visa in China.
“I didn’t expect that getting a visa would be the biggest obstacle in our marriage,” said 29-year-old Mia Liu, who got married to 24-year-old Sanju BK. The couple moved to Shenzhen but Sanju will have to wait five years to get a Chinese Green Card during which time he will have to commute between Kathmandu and Shenzhen.
“Every time Sanju goes back Nepal, I’m worried that I can never see him again,” Liu said, “Sometimes I wonder if our marriage can go on. It all depends on the visa.”
There are also cultural differences that strain marriages between Nepali men who tend to be patriarchal and Chinese women who are more independent.
Yan Yan Jun, 23, is in a relationship with a young man who she met in Thamel but he resents the expectation that she has to do all the housework even though she earns more than him.
But, Yan says: “I’m quite lucky that my boyfriend is not like other Nepali guys who think they are superior to women and are unwilling to listen to their partners.”
We chat too
Nepali businessmen using the Chinese social network WeChat to contact Chinese customers, are increasingly drawn to the dating function of the site to find Chinese friends.
WeChat is a cross between WhatsApp and Facebook and has a ‘People Nearby’ function through which users can find people in the vicinity. If the greeting request is accepted, the two can chat and be friends.
When Nepali Times experimented with the ‘People Nearby’ function one afternoon last week, we got 96 Kathmandu men in a radius of 300m to 3km from Patan. Only one of them was a female user.
Another WeChat feature called ‘Shake’ matches users who simultaneously shake the phone and can exchange greetings. But Shake doesn’t appear to be popular among Nepali men.
Nepalis are using the Chinese dating app ‘Momo’, a location-based social networking app popular among the young in China. After registering a Momo account using a Nepali phone number, Nepali Times found at least 10 male Nepali users within 4 km.
A 30-year-old Nepali man from Kathmandu said he was looking for ‘sexy and open-minded Chinese girls’, but was disappointed that he hadn’t found a single female friend after using the app for a month.
(The featured picture at the top shows Chinese hotel manager Wu Si with his Nepalese bride Samita)