China-born Kharkiv-based Mei Aisi, 35, became an internet sensation in his motherland after sharing pictures of his Ukrainian wife, Daria Mei, on social media platforms.
‘Chinese people couldn’t believe a guy as ugly and academically unsuccessful as me could have a gorgeous wife like that,’ said Mr Mei, who moved to Ukraine in 2001 to look for a new life after failing his university entrance examination in China.
Mr Mei’s wife, 23-year-old Daria, is a professional opera singer and 12 years his junior. She is tall, blonde and a typical beauty in the eyes of Chinese people.
‘Compared to Ukrainian men, Chinese men are better husbands,’ said Mei Aisi, who referred to Ukraine as ‘a land of beauties’.
‘Ukrainian men often have male chauvinism. They drink a lot and some might beat their wives. This happened to my wife’s sister.
‘In comparison, Chinese men know how to care for their families.’
Based in Kharkiv, the second largest city of Ukraine, Ulove is a match-making agency that connects talented Ukrainian women with exceptional Chinese men, according to Mr Mei.
Female candidates as young as 17 wear glamorous makeup and evening dresses at the monthly speed-dating event to attract successful single men who travel from China to Ukraine especially in hope of finding a pretty European wife.
Looking for Mr Right: Female candidates blow kisses to the camera as they attend a speed-dating event organised by Ulove in Kharkiv, Ukraine, to meet successful Chinese bachelors
High expectation also comes with high price tags.
Deep-pocketed bachelors first pay a 96,000 yuan (£11,000) annual membership fee – or 300,000 yuan (£34,600) as VIPs – before spending an extra 69,000 yuan (£8,000) on each dating event held at a luxurious golf club in Kharkiv.
Mr Mei, the father of a three-year-old girl, confessed that a few male members, though wealthy, don’t have much taste and don’t know how to woo women.
When asked why they like Chinese men, the female members, mainly university students, were not shy.
‘We really like Chinese men. They are really generous and considerate,’ said two female members, twins Alia and Nika, during an interview with Arrow Factory.
‘They are adorable. Totally different from Ukrainian guys,’ they added.
On Ulove’s account on Weibo, China’s most popular social media app, female members hold signboards with Chinese characters to advertise themselves to eligible bachelors.
Some of the romantic messages read ‘would you like to have a cute Eurasian baby’ and ‘I’m learning Chinese hard so that I can treat your ears with sweet words’.
Kharkiv-born Karalina, 21, who found a Chinese boyfriend through the cub told MailOnline that compared to Ukrainian men, Chinese men are more caring.
She said: ‘In their culture, family comes first. Their temperament is gentle and they are willing to spend more time with their girlfriend.’
Karalina, who joined Ulove at the end of 2016, started dating Li Kefu, 35, after meeting the Chinese entrepreneur at a speed-dating event in May.
Mr Li, who is from Shaanxi Province, China, said European women are more out-going and innocent – compared to Chinese women. He said he had worked in Europe for a long time before and was in Ukraine studying when he got to know Karalina.
Ulove’s female members hold signboards as advertisement as they appear on the club’s official account on Chinese social media. The woman says she wishes to sing for her other half and teach him to dance; while the one on the right says she’s studying Mandarin hard
Apparently, the Ukrainian women are also learning about Chinese culture in order to better communicate with their future partners.
‘If we use the soaring property price at China’s first-tier cities as a benchmark, the membership fee at Ulove is only the cost of a kitchen. It’s definitely worth spending (the amount) to find the love of my life,’ Mr Li told MailOnline.
Although the couple don’t speak the same language, Mr Li said it’s not a problem.
‘Sometimes, love is a matter of the expression in the eyes, a hand gesture or a simplest word,’ he explained, adding that he’s learning Russian and Karalina is learning Mandarin.
Karalina said she’s looking forward to moving to China as long as her boyfriend truly loves her.
Mr Mei said Ulove Club currently has around 75 male members, who are mainly middle-class businessmen from major Chinese cities, and more than 300 female members, who are all Ukrainian.
Because women in Ukraine tend to marry early – usually before 23 years old – the club’s female members are young, said Mr Mei.
Since its establishment in December, 2016, So far, the club has organised 10 speed dating events and successfully connected more than 20 couples.
‘Among them, five couples have announced their engagement,’ said Mr Mei.
Looking into the future, Mr Mei said he hopes to expand his international match-making business to neighboring countries, such as Belarus and Russia.
He said: ‘Some people have accused our club as a human trafficking ring or even international prostitution group. I want to stress that this is definitely not the case.
‘Everyone has the right to find happiness. There is no need be judgmental because my members are just trying to find the love of their life.’