ASIA MEDIA STAFF WRITES – Many young girls in China are now pursuing jobs as mistresses of rich businessmen or government officials. Shenzhen, the special economic zone of China, along with Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, are cities that are listed as having the highest occurrence of extramarital affairs. According to a study published by the Crisis Management Center at Renmin University in Beijing, 95 percent of Chinese officials arrested in 2012 were allegedly caught having extramarital affairs.

Although it is illegal for a government official to keep a mistress in China, it is pretty common for successful men to have them. Some might even maintain multiple mistresses at the same time. In China, having mistresses adds to a man’s wealth and social status. Not only do men find it comfortable and entertaining to freely talk about their mistresses at the dinner table, the young mistresses themselves have no shame when discussing their job.

The Chinese generally refer to mistresses as “ernai,” which literally translates to “the second breasts to provide milk” or “xiaosan,” which means “the third person in the relationship.” Although they know there cannot be a future for them and their beaus, they do get something out of the deal – it opens their eyes and expands their horizons.  Mistresses are treated better than prostitutes.  They are more like a contracted escort who gets sufficient financial support from their lover, but the actual existence of love in the relationship is ambiguous.

Mistresses are usually between the ages of 18 and 25. Generally, men who have higher social status and a lot of money look for girls who have an education in the arts or foreign languages.  Chinese society sets the cut-off age for hiring female applicants in the service industry, like waitresses and shop clerks, at 26. The employers list age, height, weight, and beauty requirements for the female applicants. Moreover, migrant women from the countryside who work in urban areas make one third less than their male colleagues.

One will often witness nice limos with dark-tinted windows driven by a professional driver pick up college girls. The girls are well-dressed and carry their brand new, limited edition designer bags when they are headed out to dinner with their “bosses.” On vacations, the mistresses are offered international first class trips to tropical islands so they can enjoy the sunshine.

With a birth rate of only 80 girls to 100 boys, young and available women are considered a scarcity. Exchanging a sexual relationship with an affluent man for a better life allows girls to save a lot of their precious, youthful time.  Instead of having to work their way up from the bottom of society, they are able to instantly enjoy the finest things in the world. These girls believe that no other occupation in China can compete with the current income they receive working as mistresses.

The golden rule of a perfect mistress is easy to follow: “Be pretty and presentable, but not over the top; be youthful, but not overtly naïve; and most importantly, be a fantasy.” Mistresses find value in being sexual fantasies for men, and feel they must keep up with the competition by applying flawless makeup, sparkling nail art, curling their hair, and having an amazing Victoria Secret model figure.

When the wives of these rich men find out about the mistresses, these young girls are often slapped, beaten up by Chinese mafia hired by the wife, or publicly shamed. Even after all this, the mistresses still think it is worth risking physical pain for a better life. They view it as a short-term job that will allow them to aggregate a small fortune so they can eventually open their own business and marry somebody else later in life.  The principal wives normally don’t blame their husbands or divorce them because they do not want to lose the financial privileges of staying in the relationship.

These women risk a lot for a chance at a better life.