An article on how Beijing residents choose their spouses has triggered heated discussion, with many claiming that the article shows society is becoming too materialistic and utilitarian when it comes to marriage.
Things like a house in a good location, car ownership, a postgraduate education and a good salary are all vital to finding a suitable life partner, according to the report from the Phoenix Weekly, which didn't mention personality or appearance at all.
However, none of these possessions can compete with a tiny piece of paper - a Beijing hukou (household registration).
"My son is from Northeast China and is now a driver in Beijing. He is 1.64 meters tall, weighs 65 kilograms. Wanted: a girl with a Beijing hukou, even if she is disabled (those with hereditary diseases will not be considered)," an advertisement written by a mother surnamed Li was quoted as saying by the Phoenix Weekly.
"My son has no Beijing hukou, and if he marries a migrant it will be difficult for their kids to get into a good public school and they will miss out on a lot of welfare and benefits," said Li.
The hukou system gives citizens access to social services such as public education and healthcare based on the city to which their hukou is linked.
For example, if those without local hukou want to buy an apartment in Beijing, they are required to pay income taxes and social insurance fees for at least 60 consecutive months.
Not of low quality
The article triggered discussion with many saying that love has gone out of marriage nowadays as people prioritize possessions and status when it comes to choosing the people with whom they will spend their life.
Young people should be willing to pursue love and independence at any price, but now they don't even bother to prioritize love in marriage, a Beijing News editorial read.
"Love comes and goes in a flash. What's to keep a marriage alive after the passion's gone? I believe marriages which are maintained by material things are easier to keep," 26-year-old Liu from East China's Shandong Province who has a master's degree, told the Global Times Monday.
"As long as the man is not of low quality, then I am ok," said Liu.
What makes things more difficult is that these who have a Beijing hukou do not want to "marry down."
"These migrants have evil purposes! They swarm into Beijing, compete with the locals, and take our advantages! They get married to locals first, get hukou, get the house and money, and then they ask for a divorce," an elderly man told the Phoenix Weekly.
It is not only the elderly who prefer locals, the younger generation of Beijingers also have often opted to marry other Beijing natives.
"Practical matters aside, I think life will be easier if I just marry someone who is also from Beijing," 26-year-old Zhao, a Beijing local who has a master's degree from a UK university, told the Global Times.
"We won't have to fight over the question of whose parents to visit during Spring Festival; and our parents can take turns to look after the baby, which will make our life much easier and help us save the money that would have gone to hiring a nanny," she noted, adding that people from Beijing also share the same customs.
Life of bad luck
However, those with Beijing hukou are not guaranteed a great spouse, as they still need to compete with all the other singletons in their position.
If a man wants to be a catch in the Beijing marriage market, he needs to have an annual salary above 540,000 yuan (,900), at least a master's degree and a house in a coveted location. Women simply need to be good looking, the article said.
Indeed, women who have a doctorate or a successful career may find themselves scorned by matchmakers.
"These women have little time to take care of men because they devote most of their time to their career, and they are just too proud of themselves," a man surnamed Wang from Beijing told the Global Times.
Even someone seemingly perfect can hit a hurdle.
The article describes Peng, a born and bred Beijinger with both a master's degree from a top university and a house in the city center.
But even she has faced rejection. "I would definitely choose you as my daughter-in-law if your Chinese zodiac was not the goat," she was told by an elderly man, who explained that those who are born in the year of the goat are believed to have a lifetime of bad luck.