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In our current study, not one of the 144 female respondents indicated a strong or exclusive preference for dating and marrying a foreign man and only 4.2% indicated even a moderate preference for dating and marrying a Westerner. About 32% stated that it didn't matter either way (no preference based on race or culture) and another 48.6% indicated a preference for a Chinese man but stated that they would consider a foreigner "if the right one came along" (ibid). The most common reasons stated for these findings were "parents would never agree to a foreigner," "too many cultural differences leading to problems later on," and "difficulty communicating."
In light of this new evidence, what we now believe is that foreign men provide a very attractive alternative to those Chinese women who feel they are not competitive for the most desirable and sought after Chinese men. This group of women primarily include:
Women who are considered to be relatively unattractive or just mediocre in appearance by Chinese standards (see unit Understanding Chinese Women, for a complete discussion of the discrepancy between Western and Chinese standards of beauty). This also includes women with darker-toned skin and probably all minority women. This is not to suggest that these women are truly unattractive, it's just that they might not be regarded as pretty in China. Keep in mind that Chinese actresses Lucy Liu (who has attained sex symbol status in the States) and Zhang Ziyi (who was voted one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by People magazine) are both considered to be "a little ugly" in China.
Women over the age of 30 and those who are no longer virgins, irrespective of marital status. While age and virginity were the least important assets in men sought after by women, they ranked in 6th and 7th place for the male respondents in the study (followed by profession and height in 8th and last place, respectively).
Women who are divorced especially, but not only, if they have a child.
Women from poor families, especially those whose parents are farmers and transient workers and were not born in a first-tier city. Chinese men ranked the girl's education and family background as 4th and 5th in order of importance, exceeded only by character, health and appearance in first, second and third place, respectively.
Finally, and quite cynically, unscrupulous women who are otherwise quite competitive for the most desirable Chinese men but who are Western-bound at any cost and are primarily, if not only, interested in the foreign man's visa.
Source: Understanding the Attraction to Foreign Men Middle Kingdom Life