I am a white 19YO university student living in America, and for one year now I have been in a serious relationship with a PRC national six years older than me. I was already studying Mandarin before I met him and his English is commendable, so communication hasn’t been an issue, and therefore everything between us on a personal level has been ideal. We both feel completely comfortable talking about the future, already assuming we’re working toward marriage after graduation.
However, my parents are none too pleased. They remained generally quiet for the first six months of dating, then all of a sudden began voicing protests. I do my best to ignore their complaints about his age and religion (we’re Christian, he was raised Buddhist), but there is one problem that really puts me between a rock and a hard place.
My father’s job requires him to have a high-level security clearance. Because of this, my parents understandably fear that were I to marry my “Communist” Chinese boyfriend, my father would be forced to quit his job. Even though my boyfriend is not a CCP member, his nationality is all that matters in the clearance. Every time I go home or open an email, I am reminded that I am ruining my family with attacks like:
“Some relationships shouldn’t be allowed to begin in the first place!”
While I do not agree, I can unfortunately understand their extreme hatred of my relationship. My father losing his job is a serious issue; I constantly think of the effect that would have on our finances and my little brother’s chance of going to college. However, I’m seriously in love with my boyfriend, and China in general. The career I’m working towards in school revolves around the country and it’s very likely I will live in mainland China one day.
At this point, I see two possible futures. The first is that I devastate my family by marrying the non-Christian PRC man I love, and am ostracized from my family. I know this is possible because ironically, my mother was ostracized from her own parents for being Christian. The second is that I will be eventually compelled to break up with my boyfriend. If that is that case, I feel bad because I should do it early, shouldn’t I? I don’t want to lead him on and deprive him of the chance to meet someone new and better. I’ll take the heartbreak if it means he can find someone to marry and have a family with.
I hope I am not sounding too dramatic. I have been under this barrage of accusations for half a year now and it is affecting the confidence I have in my relationship. I feel like day by day, I am working toward an unpleasant end.
Have you ever met a couple with political problems like mine? The couples in this site’s stories seem to be free of the grief of government relatives.
I don’t meet many couples with your political problems. But that doesn’t mean you’re the only ones.
Consider what Ericka, the Shandongxifu, wrote back in December:
I finally achieved my dream job after blood sweat and tears to have it taken away from me because of my husband’s citizenship. Even when he does eventually apply for American citizenship, his background and connections in China will always be a red flag.
…Now that I am married to a Chinese national, I have a red flag in my file that may forever keep from getting the security clearance I need to start the career that I want.
In the comments, readers echo that experience, too — some with optimism, some with doubts.
I’m also reminded of that question I answered from a Chinese military man who dreamed of wedding a foreign woman — except, according to Chinese law, he’s barred from such a marriage.
Then there’s the rest of us in Chinese-foreigner cross-cultural relationships. Maybe politics don’t translate into your kind of drama, but that doesn’t mean we’re free and clear — not even John and I. There’s the time John got denied a US tourist visa to come home with me, and then had to stay in Shanghai while I went to that rogue island of Taiwan. We also slogged together through the long and stressful process of getting a green card. Politics even means John can’t have it both ways in citizenship — he can be either a Chinese or a US citizen, but not both.
But look, that’s little comfort to you and the dilemma you face — marry and you get a broken family; don’t marry and you get a broken heart.
Still, I have a feeling that once people read your letter, you’re going to hear about even more couples just like you — and discover you’re a little less alone in your grief.
Good luck, AK.
What do you have to say?
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.