Ask the Yangxifu: Can Western Women Love a Communist Chinese Military Man?

People's Liberation Army soldiers in Shanghai
Can Western women fall in love with Chinese men who are Communist Party members, and in the military?

Concerned Chinese Person asks:

I’m a Chinese service man,and I’m a number of the communist party of China,I have a question about it,My identity isn’t like the ordinary people,if I build a serious relationship with a western girl,would she mind of my identity?


CCP, chances are, she wouldn’t care if you’re a Communist or in the military.

Sure, back in the era of McCarthyism, consorting with Communists could suddenly make you “un-American” and put you on the fast track to unemployment.

Even today, some extremists throw around the label “Communism” as if it’s a four-letter word, and “fear government takeover.” But, by and large, these people wouldn’t even think of coming to China, studying Chinese, or having anything to do with a country that has a red flag with a hammer and a sickle on it.

That means, the Western women you’d end up meeting in China probably don’t see Communism as a big deal anymore. I sure didn’t. In fact, Frank, my second Chinese boyfriend, was a Communist Party member. So are many Chinese who end up marrying Americans and getting green cards (even though, officially, the US bars Communists from immigrating — a ridiculous holdover from the Red Scare days).

As for being in the military, I’m sure many a Western woman has thought the same thing I have, after seeing a truck filled with ripped People’s Liberation Army guys in their camos: Chinese military men are hot! 😉

Assuming you have equal opportunities to meet Western women, you won’t be at a disadvantage compared to other Chinese men, when it comes to falling in love. But you do have a disadvantage when it comes to marriage:

According to current Chinese law, a foreigner cannot marry a Chinese citizen who falls within one of the following categories:

(1) military personnel in active service, diplomatic personnel, public security personnel, confidentiality personnel, or any person who possesses important and confidential information;

Maybe if you’re no longer in active service, you could marry. But, on the other hand, someone might say no, because you “possess important and confidential information” (likely decided at their discretion). You might also get very different answers on this, depending on what bureau you ask.

Before you even think of talking up a Western woman, talk to someone in the know about this. Because if there’s a breakup in your future, I’d rather it come from the two of you, than the government.

Good luck!

What advice do you have for CCP?


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

19 Replies to “Ask the Yangxifu: Can Western Women Love a Communist Chinese Military Man?”

  1. Jocelyn, I’m really glad you raised the legal issue. As soon as I saw the military part the alarm bells started to ring: This man may well fall in love with a Western woman, and I can’t see any reason why that love would not be reciprocated, but the law won’t allow this relationship to go too far. Rightly or wrongly (and that’s a whole other debate), people in certain lines of work do still have their relationships with foreigners curtailed.

    Communist Party membership, on the other hand, presents no barrier. My wife, in fact, is a Party member, and if it helps CCP, let me say I fully support her Party membership for a wide variety of reasons.

  2. Is it really true that Chinese nationals can still become or remain members of the Communist Party even if married to a Westerner? I thought I had heard a former coworker who married a Chinese girl say that when they went back to her hometown to finish paperwork afterward that she had to sign something stating she was aware that she could never become a Party member. I’m curious, for my fiance’s future.

  3. When I first went to China in 1986, I never imagined a Chinese military guy would think of serious relationships with a Western girl. Times have changed and will keep on changing. After some time, those relationships will be more and more possible, more and more common. Right now you may have to try really hard to think of ways to make it possible. Can you serve in the military for a couple more years then leave for a non-military job? Can you consider life in a country that is more tolerant of those with your background? Can you talk to someone who can clarify the regulations about relationships? and so forth. Your letter reminded me of an author Zhou Daxin who is in the military and he once wrote a story about a Chinese boy with a military father, and he marries a girl from the US. Actually the girl is of Chinese heritage, but I thought it was a very unique story – complete with steamy sex scenes. I would not be surprised if Zhou Daxin ever thought of the same question as yours……

  4. Marrying a communist is probably better these days than marrying a moslem or someone who looks like a moslem…many in the US fear a moslem takeover and introduction of the Sharia law…

    But, there are people who fear the Chinese and fear that the Chinese will takeover the US….

    To me it all comes down to the same fear…communist or moslem is a codeword for any non-white person…in fact, these folks fear the non-whites…the more things change the more things remain the same!

  5. Kelly, my wife’s colleagues, and therefore all the members of her party branch, are perfectly aware of my nationality, and yet there has never been any suggestion of her having to leave the Party.

  6. Interesting, Chris, and thank you. I wonder what in the world that guy was talking about then. I’m sure I heard him correctly, so perhaps he misunderstood when it was all going on. Or maybe it had something to do with her not being a member yet, so she couldn’t in the future, or that they were trying to get her a visa to move to the States?
    Thanks for your insight, regardless!

    1. @Chris, thanks for the comments (and, for that matter, even answering Kelly’s question — you rock)! Your situation is a perfect example of why being a Communist party member is no longer a barrier to marriage for foreign-Chinese couples.

      @Kelly, thanks for commenting. I honestly don’t know why they would ask your friend’s wife to fill out that paperwork — strange.

      @Li Lan, great to hear from you — that story from Zhou Daxin sounds very intriguing (especially those steamy sex scenes!). I’ll have to look for it sometime.

      @George, thanks for sharing. I agree with you — talk of Communists/Muslims is just another way to put a label on “the other” that so many whites fear in this country (for all the wrong reasons).

  7. Jocelyn, I have no idea for sure either why they would make her do that. Like I said, I suspect that the husband either misunderstood (possible, as he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the lamp) or it has something to do with whether or not you are already a member when you marry. My fiance and I discussed this last night and he thought maybe the same thing (that if you are newly joining the party, they might conduct a check of you, or whatever, but that if you were already a member, they probably wouldn’t bother going through their ranks to check people out). Who knows!
    But good to know, for his future. When I heard my former coworker say that, it immediately brought up feelings of guilt in me about how being with me might restrict him in the future. For now though, it seems like this particular issue shouldn’t matter. Thanks again!

  8. Never knew about the legal matter of marriage for certain people in China. I would say the greatest concern is the difficulty of obtaining a passport from the Chinese government and the subsequent difficulty in obtaining a visa to the partner’s home country (and I don’t mean for immigration). I’m still disappointed that some of my friends in China can’t visit my wife and me in the US.

  9. This is a fascinating thread and love your blog!
    I need to add that not every American thinks it’s wrong to have a Muslim or non-white relationship. There are some who do but not every American does. Racism is wrong and love comes in every color.

    I’m a white woman and I wouldn’t mind if my bf or husband happened to be Asian or any other race. I find the Chinese military fascinating although I am not sure we agree on ideology.

    As more Chinese men have trouble finding wives due to the one child policy, I would imagine they may have more interest in women of other races and cultures. I wonder if the Party allows military men to marry women from other Asian countries like Korea, Japan, Thailand, etc..

    It does appear to be yet another form of interference if the govt is telling you whom you can’t marry. This kind of personal interference regarding major life decisions doesn’t happen in the U.S.

  10. Not only PLA, but ROC military of China/Taiwan also have (or had) similar restrictions. Col. 高志航 was forced to divorce his Russian wife when the Manchurian air force was obsorbed by ROCAF.

  11. It’s easy to make the argument that the modern CCP isn’t truly communist anymore, and membership in the CCP doesn’t mean anything specific other than that they applied to and were accepted into the CCP. That they applied to can be explained as CCP membership granting various of tangible and intangible benefits regardless of actual politics, and that they were accepted is probably always a good thing considering that party membership is still selective and not extended to just anyone who wants to join.

  12. I work for one of the top Chinese military universities, and have actually had this discussion in class. I find it odd that “CCP” asked this question, since all of my students seemed to clearly understand that they are not allowed to marry ANY non-Chinese, and none of them were interested in even casually dating one. I could count on one hand the number of students who said they would consider marrying a foreigner, were military restrictions not a problem; a couple of guys even said they “had dreams” of dating foreign women, and thought the tricky issue of cross-culturally raising children sounded fun and interesting. I really like some of my students, but after spending extended time so close to Chinese military culture, on top of general Chinese culture, I don’t know that I would seriously date anyone in the Chinese military, even if it weren’t a problem.

  13. Help!

    My girlfriend’s brother has joined the Chinese Army. A friend of his, who is also in the Chinese Army, called my girlfriend’s mom with some startling news. He said that he had to sign a form that said nobody in his family could be a foreigner. He seemed to believe that, if I were to marry my girlfriend, our marriage would disqualify her brother from being in the Army.

    On the Internet, I have seen that a foreigner cannot marry an active-duty Chinese serviceperson; however, I have never seen anything that says in-laws will be affected from enlisting. When I said this to my girlfriend, she told me that, according to her mother, my girlfriend’s brother is entering a branch of the military that is involved with weapons manufacturing, so it might be stricter than other branches. I’m completely ignorant of the levels of the Chinese military, so I didn’t have a response though I could see that this might be true.

    So complicated …

    Does anyone know for sure if my marrying my girlfriend will make her brother ineligible for any branch of the Chinese military?

  14. Update …

    (First, I’m an American who wants to marry my Chinese girlfriend; I’m adding to the above post I left above, in which I asked for help.)

    My girlfriend’s father went to see the Army contact who is helping my girlfriend’s brother get into the Chinese Army.

    According to my girlfriend’s father, the Army contact confirmed the horrible news: Apparently, my girlfriend’s brother can be in the Army if I am his brother-in-law. However, if my girlfriend’s brother wants to advance in the Army, then the Army will do a backgroudn check, and if he has a foreign brother-in-law, namely me, then he cannot advance.

    In China, in my girlfriend’s family anyway, this means one thing: we have to break up. While the family, which is well off, wasn’t thrilled about us trying to marry in the first place (though they didn’t outright oppose it), marriage is now absolutely impossible.

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