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I tell them it’s because I have standards that I’m not willing to lower.’ Touching an expensive-looking bangle on her wrist, she goes on, 'I think my parents understand a bit more – they just want me to be happy – but my aunties always say things like, “Oh, do you remember that girl you went to school with? ” It's very frustrating.’ Wu Manling, 30 and a magazine editor, agrees.

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Taking matters into her own hands, she set up the matchmaking site Jiayuan ('Beautiful Destiny’) to help women like her, and within three months had met her husband via the site.

With more than 58 million registered users, the site has given her a clear picture of what constitutes 'the ideal woman’ in the eyes of a Chinese male.

'The Chinese family is getting smaller and smaller and so the pressure on young women today is huge,’ says the social historian Simon Gjeroe.

'There’s a very large older population in China that by sheer weight of numbers is winning the pressure war.

In fact, so undeniable is the rise of women in China that there is even a phrase for their sudden blossoming: ) is on the way down.

But there’s one thing that’s holding them back – and even making them ditch their careers altogether – and that’s the fear of being single.

'The most popular woman is the traditional, angelic type,’ she says.

A faint smile crosses her lips as she admits that many search for women with 'large breasts and slim figures’, adding, 'The most common profession searches are for girls who are teachers or nurses, as men think those women will be able to educate and care for their children well.’ By contrast, says Gong, women’s requirements are multiplying all the time, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

I’ve met women who actually quit their jobs because they thought they’d find it easier to attract a husband, which is very frightening. There are many countries where men don’t like strong women,’ she points out, 'but Chinese men particularly so.

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