Mistresses are big business in China, where no official is a real man without his own ernai. What’s in it for the girls?
I have experience with the hostess and karaoke culture and it's not unique to China. In fact, many of the things mentioned in the article are true of other Asian cultures I have lived in and experienced.
I don't think that this should be a shock, though from the writer's tone it's clear that it's meant to be at least a surprise. Sex and emotion are intertwined for biological reasons. That economic reasons have insinuated themselves into the mix is a comment on human cultures. I would be willing to bet that though the West loves to focus on the East for its alien nature, the exact same things are happening in the West under slightly different circumstances. In fact, the "Eliot Spitzer 'Scandal'" comes to mind. Sure, there are no credible reports as to why Spitzer used that escort service, but something tells me that there was an emotional component.
Again, this is not really a Chinese phenomenon, or an Asian phenomenon though the writer is clearly playing that angle. With power comes the ability to create sexual opportunity and any "real" man would capitalize on that opportunity. Whether or not it is more prevalent in Asian countries than in Western countries, I have no idea. Though generally more uptight, in my experience, Asian cultures have a much more pragmatic approach when it comes to sex and extra-marital affairs than the United States, which again, should be no shock.
In any parts of Asia, sex and marriage are still very closely bound to economics. Please remember that there was no Romantic period in Asia, where childhood was idealized and children went from being miniature, developing adults, to separate, alien beings imbued with attributes that create a nostalgia for adults. This is changing however, and romantic love is very much the goal of many young people in both China and other Asian countries I've experienced.
Please note that I am not condoning any of this, merely taking issue with the writer's position as it seems to me. There are gold-diggers everywhere and in every era. However, I do agree with the writer's ideas about how these situations are not completely about financial gain, but rather, dealing with the realities of real people's lives which are shaped by culture, circumstance and time. What the writer only touched on, but what I wish the writer had focused on, was the stresses that drive people into these situations. Yes, the pressures for the women were explored a bit, but not really for the men. It's a powerful thing when opportunity and expectation present themselves.