The sound of trumpets and hooves echoed through the park beside Buckingham Palace on Tuesday morning, as hundreds of guards on horseback rode in a procession to welcome the Chinese President Xi Jinping to London for a state visit this week. companies and aggressive movement in the South China Sea.

The splendid welcome is a reflection of Britain's recent, rather overt, fawning over China in an attempt to build stronger economic relations, a move that has some Western allies wondering if Britain is becoming too close. Britain's overtures to the Chinese—led largely by George Osborne, Britain's equivalent of a treasury secretary — started in earnest in March when Britain made a point of becoming the first Western country and only member of the G-7, to join the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, China's rival to the Washington-based World Bank.

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Gu earns a small commission for hanging up personal ads, but the real currency in the marketplace is the information placards themselves: "Male, born in 1982, from Shanghai, never married, steady job, doesn’t smoke or drink." “The ones that do the best are the average ones: not too good but not lousy,” Gu told The World Post while standing in front of his current batch of personal ads.

“Their salary shouldn’t be too high, but it definitely can’t be too low either.” Gu charges the equivalent of $16 to hang a placard for six months, and he does some low-level advocacy for his flock.

But, under no circumstances, should you mention sex while dating Chinese women.

It is considered very vulgar and rude in Chinese dating.

The marriage market runs for five hours each weekend afternoon, rain or shine.

On a recent Saturday, a meaty-cheeked man in a chef’s hat handed out delicacies to various matchmakers, while around him the air swirled with gossipy chatter laced with a touch of desperation.Decked out in a flaming red fedora, matching silk shirt and a brown leather jacket, Gu is more appropriately dressed for his actual line of work: bringing people together in the name of love (or, if that’s too much to ask, at least marriage and childrearing).This is the Shanghai marriage market (translated literally, the “blind date corner”), and Gu is one of dozens of matchmakers who hawk potential spouses to parents fretting over the destinies of their unmarried children.When I last dated, in 2010, flip phones were all the rage, you spent more time crafting your text messages, and e-mails were lengthier and more thoughtful.Facebook and Google existed, but in an era without smartphones, I was able to maintain a comfortable distance from constant news and status updates. There was a common thread to dates I went on in New York and Hong Kong."It is probably the most comprehensive push by any Western country on commercial ties with China, at the expense of any of the other considerations," says Andrew Small, a transatlantic fellow in the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund in Washington.