Ask the Yangxifu: What do Chinese Men Think of Half-Chinese, Half-White Women?

Karen Mok
A half-Chinese, half-White woman wonders, what would Chinese men and their parents think of dating her? (photo of Karen Mok -- a hapa celebrity in China -- by Rico Shen, from

Bari asks:

I am biracial, with a chinese mother and a caucasian father. Physically the only real asian things about me are my eyes and body stature, noticeable, but other than that I look pretty much caucasian. As for background, my mother was a foreigner, and I was born and bred in the united states. Throughout my life there were always chinese influences in the home, but it ends there (can’t speak chinese either, but learning!). There is much helpful advice on the internet for caucasian women to get a chinese man, but I’ve never seen any for halfies such as myself. Being biracial, I feel kind of awkward in the whole asian-caucasian dating scene, perhaps being too “white” for the more conservative Chinese men and too “asian” for the yangxifu lovers. What would the difference be in how chinese men and their parents view me because I am half instead of full caucasian?


Sean Lennon said the following in the book Part Asian, 100% Hapa:

If, like me, you are half-Japanese and half-white, you will in Japan be considered white and in America be considered Asian. This can be lonely at times, but it mostly makes for good conversation.

He’s not a half-Chinese and half-White woman like you, but his words are telling. I can only imagine how awkward the Asian-Caucasian dating scene must be for you.

There’s little on the topic out there, as you said. Many Chinese shower half-Chinese, half-White people with the usual stereotypes (gorgeous and clever), but I’ve never heard or read anything on the subject of dating between Chinese men and women like yourself. When I searched the English-language Internet, I found some hapa sites, but few discussions on hapa women dating Asian men, let alone Chinese men.

Still, I found a few things after sifting through some forums. Here’s a quote from a discussion titled “Dating Asian people while hapa”:

I have met many Asian women who find Hapas very attractive- the exoticness factor thrown in with someone-you-can-take-home-to-mom I suppose.

[Jocelyn’s note: maybe the “someone-you-can-take-home-to-mom” factor could apply with Chinese men?]

In the forums on the Fighting 44s, I found this in a discussion called “Hapas and IR”:

Full asian guy/hapa girl- Matters where you live. In Asia this seems like a trend for celebs. Like the black men and white women, it seems that some Asian men feel that to top off their success, they need a hapa girl. For the hapa girls in Asia, they are more in touch of their Asian roots and see all the whites their as bums….

…mixed race asians are considered better catches on the colonial ladder in asia than gweilos [white foreigners]…

whereas mixed race people are “just asian enough” but with “good caucasian features” but more often than not, they are more easily integrated into the culture, which is still quite important for living in asia. being mixed race provides you with a lot of opportunities in a lot of fields and in day to day life, as well.

i suspect that if you ask, most men and women in asia would choose a mixed race partner over a gwei.

But these are only a few opinions from online — hardly enough to draw any firm conclusions, nor to answer your question in full.

So I’d like to ask the readers out there. In your opinion, what would Chinese men think of half-Chinese/half-Caucasian women (as far as dating)? What about Chinese parents?

And, please, don’t keep this post to yourself. Share it and invite others to have their say. Maybe then we’ll get a little closer to providing some kind of guidance out there to women like Bari.


Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China/Chinese culture (or Western culture)? Every Friday, I answer questions on my blog. Send me your question today.

36 Replies to “Ask the Yangxifu: What do Chinese Men Think of Half-Chinese, Half-White Women?”

  1. I heard rumors that Jay Chou is dating a hapa girl, a model who also has a Chinese mother and a white father. Not sure if I can be much help.

  2. I don’t have much personal experience to contribute as I’ve only observed casual acquaintances with hapa and non hapa marriages. The ones that I’ve seen are basically fully integrated into North American society. Have basically forgotten their Asian Roots.

    1 marriage of Hapa wife ( chinese father/caucasian mother) and Canadian Born Chinese husband.

    Another Hapa wife (Afro-American mother/chinese father) and a caucasian husband.

    both these couples been married several years now…and because I’ve never gotten past the acquaintance level not much insight to share.

    Identity problem extends beyond “Hapa” on the mainland of USA and elsewhere…2 place I’ve lived in where Hapa’s are a norm is Hawaii; this is of course this is due to their unique location and cultural/historical background.

    New Zealand also a product of its history; I find has a lot of mixed “Maori’s” (Native’s from New Zealand) and British.

    Back to the topic of not fitting in anywhere. I’ll use a personal example – myself. I’m a Canadian Born Chinese. 2nd Generation. Due to luck of the place my 1st generation immigrant parents chose to settle (Vancouver Canada) I was able to maintain much more of my Chinese Heritage than most foreign born. There a running joke since the mid 90’s that Vancouver is really “Hong-cover” (Hong Kong).

    Over here, I’m just your typical “visible minority” Chinese-Canadian. When i go to Hong Kong to visit my relatives here’s where the nitpicking starts.

    Despite being fluent in Cantonese I get nitpicked with a slight accent hardly noticeable unless you’re paying attention. My fellow cousin’s laugh when I’m not “up with the latest lingo/celeb gossip etc” as I live overseas and so don’t keep up with local entertainment.

    The worst was this 人不人, 鬼不鬼 (I’m using the Cantonese expression to preserve the meaning as much as I can and I apologise to those who are non Chinese Readers)…politely that means I am neither Eastern nor Western.

  3. I love this post! Im half chinese half white and i use to live in china and i still go back there during holidays, cause i love china ^^ i hope to live there in the future too. From my experience chinese guys do like mixed race girls very much, quite a few guys have called me pretty/beautiful…:)…..usually they point out the fact that you have a high nose bridge……..and also the fact that my skin is whiter than the average chinese girl…. when i am in china, i have overheard guys talking about how they would like to have a “hun xue er” girlfreind….so judging by that…. im pretty sure alot of chinese guys in china would be very proud to have a mixed race girlfriend 🙂

  4. Being biracial shouldn’t be a problem when it comes to dating Chinese guys. I myself wouldn’t object and I would have no problem dating one. In fact, we do find biracial women generally pretty. It all boils down to whether there is love and I am quite certain Chinese parents won’t have a problem with their sons dating/marrying one. Well, Bari, the world’s your oyster so to speak. Get out there and find your Chinese guy. Good luck!

    @Jamie, we have a saying here too among the Hailam community, “lang bo ti lang, gui bo ti gui” or in Mandarin 人不 人, 鬼不鬼 which is rather derogatory and it’s meant to mean a monster of a person. Ha, I think your cousins just meant to poke fun at you.

  5. All I know is I have never run into a dumb Hapa. Most of them are above average and many, especially the Hapa females are super-smart like the Tiger Mom’s daughters. I had a Hapa work for me at the University of Hawaii and she was 16. She graduated with a degree in sciences at 19. Her sister did the same a few years later. May be hybrids make brighter and more beautiful people…but then again I am not into genetics.

  6. I personally know quite a few Hapa girls for some reasons, they all fall into cute category. Smart, happy, and social are common scene. In fact, they tend to have balanced asian and white friends, I guess both feel they share something common with Hapas.
    AS for dating, Hapas shouldn’t have any issues as they are considered as supper cute by both asian and white.

  7. @ ordinary Malaysian…they were not poking fun at me…it’s quite serious…we all instinctively know when it is a Joke…and if it was a joke it’s not nearly as bad.

    Female cousins of mine harbour such feelings…even though we “grew up” together….I am almost certain it’s more of a hong kong thing…übermensch syndrome they have. Similar to the rich neighbourhood looking down upon their poorer neighbours…

  8. @Jamie, sorry to hear they were serious and not poking fun at you. Oops, actually “monster of a person” should read “monster of sorts” since 人不人, 鬼不鬼 means neither man nor devil!

  9. I’ve met many hapas, but I’ve found they way they identify culturally and are treated by their peers depend more on their physical appearance and less on their actual genetic percentage of Asianness (1/2, 1/4, etc.) A hapa who looks white is going to have a completely different life experience and social perception than a hapa who looks more Asian. And that treatment, whether that person gets to benefit from white privilege or is treated like a minority, impacts their self-identity and the way they relate to others.

  10. @Jaime colouson: Is there a reason for you to put “scare quotes” around the word Maori? Your “scare quotes” strike me as being really quite rude.

    I’m not sure what you mean be bringing up New Zealand, as your grammar in that sentence got a bit messy. If you mean to say there’s a lot of mixed Maori-Pakeha families in New Zealand, then yes, you’re right. There are a lot of mixed families of many varieities, Bic and Boh Runga being two examples of very successful Maori-Chinese.

  11. @Bari,
    if you know the culture i.e speak the language, know the history, you’ll have no problem getting a Chinese guy. Besides, since you are biracial, you’ll have an added advantage, look wise.
    @ordinary malaysian,
    as a hainanese, I have to correct you on ‘neither man nor devil’. The saying is not derogatory. If you are well acquainted with the Hainanese community, you’ll realise that there’s nothing derogatory about it. When I say a person is ‘neither man nor devil, it means the person is unconventional, unorthodox.

  12. Here in Boston, Hapa’s are rare, but appreciated by all in the community. I grew up with a few and went to school with even more. They were all so beautifull and i’d love to have a beautiful hapa child in the future.

  13. @Sam. The sense I get all along is that the phrase is meant to be derogatory. I may be wrong. But probably it is the context in which and how it is spoken that conveys the meaning of the speaker.

  14. @Jaime Colouson – Sounds like your relatives did not use the wording properly. “土不土 洋不洋“ (neither native nor foreign) may be a better phrase. If it meant to poke fun, “四不像”(Not similar to anything) would be a better choice, I think. Were they jealous of you ?

    @xl – The identity issue of Hapa is more related to how they perceive themselves than what others think. Although the appearance plays an important role in social life, the content of the person eventually plays the star role regardless.

  15. @cvaguy,

    you just made a perfect example for me…pardon my language for demonstration value…超! 什麼多不知道…that was a polite example to put you down in order to give you a sense of the negativity I get routinely. I assure you this linguistic one-upmanship in Cantonese is merely a Hong Kong phenomenon.

    Your language is about the only way Hong Konger can tell every other Chinese person around them apart. In Canton Province (Guang Dong) everyone’s got some regional accent/dialect of Mandarin & Cantonese when they speak so no one can really poke fun of me…usually I get wow! you must be from Guangzhou/Hong Kong/Shenzhen your Cantonese is so standard/clear/good…etc

    Sadly this discussion has nothing to do with the topic above…I think we should call it quits…or move this political discussion of Hongers and its relationship with Mainland & Overseas Chinese…elsewhere.

    @ Chris Waugh…I apologise…I’ve been spending most of my time away from English Speaking countries lately. Pardon my poor English. I meant no disrespect. I spent 2 years in NZ and had a lot of fun.

  16. I love this (and Karen Mok–she’s the prettiest HK starlet!). My son is half Chinese/half-Caucasian. We know so many hapa girls so since he was a toddler, the other moms and I have secretly made plans to fix our kids up when they’re older. When I was in China, it seemed like hapa kids were very in fashion, although I heard the opposite about Hong Kong in the 70s. I’m so glad we’ve progressed.

  17. From some of the Chinese (Mainland) guys I talked to, other than looks, what they care most is if their potential other half can speak the language. These are the guys who wouldn’t mind dating someone other than Chinese. Communication is pretty important to them, and they’re ok if she isn’t that fluent and articulate, just enough to get things done and convey basic emotions. Physique wise, every guy kind of has different tastes, but yeah, for Hapas, some of their well-known features do seem attractive to some Chinese guys.

  18. My best friend, she is a Hapa. Half-Chinese, Half-Caucasian. Bari’s features she described of herself, reminded me of my best friend, my meimei.
    Well, everything about Bari said, my meimei popped into my mind. She doesn’t know Chinese, but knows more than myself(we’re trying to study together.)

    She had gone to China though, for a month, and was called beautiful by a lot of Chinese.
    So from her experiences and of what she told me, most Chinese do think hapas are beautiful.
    (not knowing about the dating scene, but she is some-what friends with my Chinese guy friends at school.)

  19. @Jaime Colouson – Sorry to hear what you experienced in Hong Kong. You should just tell them the advantage that comes from the synergy of both native and foreign cultures (土洋接合,扬长避短).

    In a similar way, the beauty of Hapa is the synergy of East meeting West. All the Hapas I know seem to be smarter than average Asians, and more attractive than average population.

  20. There’s something everybody forgot. This is a question of supply and demand.

    The supply of Chinese men is very high – too high – because of selective childbirth. It’s just going to get harder and harder for a Chinese man to find ANY type of girlfriend. Hell, it might get so bad that Chinese culture will have to adapt to a one-wife-two-husband system.

    On the other hand, the demand for hunxue girls, even if small (which it won’t be), will almost certainly exceed the tiny supply. They’re bound to command a high value on the dating market!

  21. “In a similar way, the beauty of Hapa is the synergy of East meeting West. All the Hapas I know seem to be smarter than average Asians, and more attractive than average population.”

    Absolutely right! Before I came across a lot of Hapas in Harvard twenty years ago, I did not think anyone can be smarter than a full blooded East Asian. Convinced me that genetics has something to do with it. The Germans had it all upside down!

    “Here in Boston, Hapa’s are rare,”

    Kindly go across the Charles River to Cambridge, to the Campus of MIT or Harvard. This year Harvard admitted a disporportionate number of Hapas because these kids did not identify their race in the application form!

  22. What do Asian men think about biracial women?

    It really all depends. I think many of you have touched on a lot of important facets but I’ll just share a little of my experience to hopefully help some of y’all out there.

    I am a biracial 19 year-old woman. I’m half Taiwanese and half Norwegian-descent White. I grew up in the States for half of my life and the other half in Taiwan, thus I’m bilingual in English and Mandarin Chinese. When my sister and I are in Taiwan we get a lot of attention. Men are initially attracted to us because of our looks; we look “exotic” to them as we have many white features yet we have Asian physique, Asian skin….etc. Later, men are attracted to us because of our ability to relate to them, in other words, how Taiwanese we are inside. The most important thing is that we can communicate with them. A lot of mixed girls don’t speak Chinese and that is where they become less desirable. Other than being able to communicate with the average Taiwanese man or Chinese man, we have a lot of Asian morals and values instilled in us by our Asian mother and Asian-culture-loving father. For example, we have been taught to value education, be respectful to elders, show filial piety, not have premarital sex…..etc. Because we’re not completely “white-washed” and Americanized, Taiwanese men really respect and find interest in us. Eventually though, we are just like them and they forget about our biracialness; we’re just another Taiwanese girl. However, dating a biracial girl does tend to bring some sort of pride to a lot of men for some odd reason.

    In the United States my situation is similar. I don’t really have a problem in finding men who are interested in me. However, in the United States I am not really put on a pedestal like I am in Taiwan because the U.S. is more of a heterogeneous society; I don’t really stick out as much. I’m seen more as an individual rather than “that mixed girl.” With that said, the nice thing about the dating field in America is that not only do I have the opportunity to date Taiwanese-American men but all other Asian American men as well. Asian American men (American born Taiwanese for example) typically prefer me over White women as I understand their Asian culture yet I’m not completely Asian and still have some of their American culture. I don’t know if they necessary prefer me over Asian American women. This depends on the person.

    On a slightly different note, I would like to mention that there are also those disgusting creepers who have fetishes for mixed girls. There are quite a few of those that have the stereotype that we are beautiful, smart…. whatever. Those people blend in well with the guys that are genuinely interested so it becomes hard for people like myself to know who to date.

    In short, Asian men in Taiwan or in the United States like biracial women because we usually have the best of both worlds.

    Sorry for all of my blabbering. I have a lot of interest in this subject so I thought I’d share… 😛

  23. That’s interesting Anne. 🙂

    Avoiding premarital sex isn’t a common value in Chinese cities anymore, but it was in the past. I’m not sure about Taiwan, but I would have guessed that it’s similar.

  24. I’ve known quite a few hapas in the past but honestly I don’t really consider them to be any different to others, sometimes I don’t even notice that they’re biracial at all and I usually don’t care about their backgrounds unless they bring it up first. I also dislike how people in Asia put them on pedestal. Though it’s understandable that they’re attracted to the ‘exotic’ features. To answer the question; just like any other girls it depends on the individual, but as an Asian who is brought up in two different cultures I do have affinity toward girls who have similar cultural upbringing biracial or not.

  25. “I also dislike how people in Asia put them on pedestal.”

    I have a big problem with Asians putting white people on the pedestal.

  26. “There are quite a few of those that have the stereotype that we are beautiful, smart…. ”

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But Hapas are smart, smarter than your average Asian or white.

  27. David,

    I’m only nice to people but I won’t put anybody on the pedestral including rich people, women , asian people ( I’m chinese myself), white people, blacks etc. If you kiss ass to people or anybody, it’s hard for them to treat you as equal. Don’t think about them showing respect or admire you man. Damn you, they will eventually LOOK DOWN ON YOU! For example, I’m a Chinese man and I put another Chinese man/woman on the pedestral. In the long run, I’m just a loser , a nobody to him or her. Think think think people! elementary my dear!!Very simple example here on putting kids on the pedestral. Look at what have you trained them to become? They have become a bunch of disrespectful kids. They are lazy and they won’t listen to you period. Don’t think about them helping you with chores!

  28. No one should be put on pedestal, not even King and Pope. We are all born equal under God. America is a land of individuality and equality, where you feel much less pressured to do what everyone else is doing. That is what I love about it. Whatever I do and whoever I like is equally viable choice than the next person does.

    A relationship is about finding the balance between the two. I don’t like to yell but I certainly would get my message across when my buttons get pushed, even though I have pretty high tolerance threshold. For selected topic that I want to address, I will surely bring it up for discussion, but not necessarily on the spot through. My rule of argument is 1) it has to have good reasons and rationals (i.e. I have to be right 🙂 ) 2) it has to be beneficial (i.e. it either benefits me or both when argument is over) and 3) it has to be constrained so it would not escalated to the point of no return, when she reacts badly (i.e. prepare to walk away from the heat of argument, and try next time).

    Just my opinion.

  29. I don’t understand, why this is even an issue. Haven’t you guys ever heard of places like PHILIPPINES?? Where almost everyone there is a Hapa?? There are millions of Chinese there too, and many of them marry the local who are Hapa.

    SO no, there is definitely not an issue here.

  30. Hmm, well here in Hawaii mostly EVERYBODY is mixed. In fact, i only know about four people who are full-blooded of any race. I am six different nationalities which is completely normal here. I am mostly white, but am part Chinese, Hawaiian, and Native American too. The four full-blooded people i know all date/married mixed race people. Maybe my input doesn’t count though, since i’m from the “mixed plate” state…

  31. I’m half Chinese half white, with my mother being the Asian parent. I never found love until I was 18 (wasn’t rly looking anyways haha) and when I did it was with a full Chinese guy and we have dated for a few years now and are engaged. I identify more with being Chinese than white and look very Asian for a hapa.

    His family want him to date a full Chinese lady and they know I’m half Chinese but they still call me ‘The English girl’ and I feel left out because I don’t speak Chinese (I wasn’t raised by my biological parents).

    Online dating: I would get ALOT of white men chasing after me but no Asian, but tbh my experiences dating and even talking to an Asian guy has always been difficult partly because of parents. And the Asian guys on dating sites….. They are SO abnoxious and hostile towards people like me.

    I also had racism from them because my Asian mother had gone with a white man instead of Asian, it seems like even today a lot of Chinese people are not accepting mixed race Chinese. They refuse to accept I’m half of them and call me white, just like my fiances parents..

    But my fiance loves me for who I am and what I am and we’re pretty much the typical Chinese couple and have our traditions n values etc.

    Out of 100s of white guys he’s the only Asian guy who showed interest in me because he looked past my parentage and judged me by my personality instead.

    Now u know why 99% hapas date white people. Asians can be so difficult to deal with, with their ‘old fashioned’, xenaphobic views… -.-

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