You have heard of propaganda being sent from China – now it’s being sent from doubles players.
Seven tennis players have sent a video to their country’s official news website, tianya.com, outlining the benefits of marrying into their region’s dominant ethnic minority.
It’s not known whether any of them are actually Chinese, and the news coincides with a new attempt to sell passports to prospective citizens of a ‘development zone’ in southwest China’s Sichuan province.
But the message is the same: marry in, get a passport, and your future looks bright – particularly if you are a Mongolian.
You can go to a free “China Spring Festival” wedding, because marriage can bring along an invitation to visit the “maternity villages” in which some 20,000 women are trained to become a “favourite companion” to her “hubby”.
Sadly for the seven players in question, this video contains no testimony from China’s rising number one women’s doubles pair, Peng Shuai and Sania Mirza, who have not let being Mongolian nationality constraints get in the way of their love.
In previous columns, a BBC reporter in Ulaanbaatar has been asked to describe what makes Mongolia the “sitting duck” of south-east Asia. Aged 16 and 19 at the time, the correspondent attempted – to little effect – to sum up the country’s famously loquacious, mountainous, egalitarian politics with the words “complicated” and “unpredictable”.
It’s not clear how governments would get their hands on such a video of the appeal for marriage with Mongolia, and no news organisation has broken the story – largely because it has yet to identify the players.
It’s the latest chapter in a long-running campaign to introduce citizenship, by marriage, to some of the 500,000 people from Mongolia’s 4 million population who call China home.
The hope is to bring families and children together to further deepen political and economic ties.
Some also believe “heart drives” should have “rescued” the elderly, and see the birth of a boy as a possibility.
When promoting the “marriage for passport” scheme, Chinese officials claimed that 90% of all Chinese men with Mongolian-sounding names do not even have an official Mongolian passport, but have been simply “Swiss-educated” in Chinese academies.
Some have simply been naturalised Mongolians before becoming citizens in China.
The Guardian reported that recent inspections of “essentially post-independent” Mongolia have found such pupils only had one date on their hand.
But perhaps there is a little to be seen in the video featuring the seven women in the Middle Kingdom’s south-west, but more evidence to suggest a long-awaited chance to escape those restrictions is gaining momentum.