"I don't have any requirements at all," said the 35-year-old farmer. "I would be satisfied with just a wife." His prospects of finding one, he added, are "almost zero". There are dozens of single men in Banzhushan village, perched high on a remote mountain peak in central Hunan province – and not one unattached woman of marriageable age.
Tens of millions of men across China face a future as bachelors. They are a source of pity, not envy, in a country where having children is central to life.
Duan worries about growing old with no one to care for him. He chafes at the unhelpful pressure to wed from his parents and neighbours. The worst thing of all is the loneliness.
This is the perverse outcome of the country's longstanding preference for sons, and its sudden modernisation. Traditionally, the family line is passed via men. When a woman marries, she joins her husband's family.
Having a boy is a cultural and a pragmatic choice: you expect him to continue your lineage and support you in old age. The result has long been a surplus of men, because of female infanticide or excess female deaths through neglect. But in the last 20 years, the problem has exploded thanks to the spread of prenatal scans.
Sex-selective abortion is illegal, but is clearly widely practised."
Read article by Tania Branigan from The Guardian.