There is nothing more important to Chinese people than to have their offspring (their only offspring, in most cases) get married and either carry on the family name and to have a baby.
If you're a guy it's simple...find a beautiful girl (who wants to have children--preferably within 1-2 years of marriage) and who can cook and marry her. *the ratio of men to women in China is higher so maybe it's not as simple as it sounds.
For a girl it's simple too...find a man who can support you and who is interested in you (which means you should be 27 or younger...over the age of 27 is considered "leftover")
Do you see the word "love" anywhere in this equation?? Nope. I think some marriages do involve love, but it isn't the same as the West--where in most cases love is one of the top priorities in a relationship to take the next step to marriage.
1. There is a lot of pressure to get married!
The following pictures are from a "marriage market" in Shanghai. You can see parents, even grandparents, are the ones doing the matchmaking.
You can see the paper shows she was born in '88, she's 1.63 meters tall, (surprising it doesn't list her weight...), it lists her job, her salary (5000 RMB/month), what she is looking for in a man (i think it says taller than her and 2-4 years older)
2. A lot of couples are set up by their parents or through online dating.
3. The first question for a woman on a date might be "what do you do and how much money do you make?" (sometimes this is where the date ends).
4. The first question or so for a man might be "do you want to get married and have a child one (shortly after may be implied)"
5. Some men don't even want to get married...but the desire of their parents is what drives their interest.
Couples get married young, have their child--which is usually raised by the grandparents while the parents work hard to make a living or a life for their baby and they live happily ever after...right?
In some cases, yes (there are a lot of good guys out there!). However, some men...especially wealthy men have mistresses. Or they cheat on their spouse. I'm not sure if it goes both ways (it has to right? for the women's sake I hope so). It seems to be more of an obvious problem in Southern China, where the opening of markets has attracted a lot of wealthy businessmen. It also seems to be quite an issue with government officials (as described in the following article the "Mistress Breaker")
When talking to local (Chinese) girls my age, they want to marry someone who is just "average" looking so they do not get cheated on. They tell me almost all good-looking, wealthy men cheat.
This has led to an "innovative new business" in some areas of China--the "Mistress Breaker"
At clubs and bars it is not uncommon to see women by themselves, wearing little clothing (however, many women wear questionable outfits so they are a little hard to pick out, but the alone thing is a huge pointer). Some of my guy friends have told me that they accidentally sat down and had drinks with a hooker.
This mistress and prostitute culture is also an important part of the business world (almost as common as cigarettes and baiju, a rice wine). This article "The Bro Code" discusses the world of dealmaking in China.