When Buntha decided to leave her home in rural Cambodia for China, she thought she could make some money to support her family by marrying a Chinese man. Together with her sister, she arrived in a village called Huanggang in south China, where the preference for sons has dramatically skewed sex ratio, creating a shortage of women. Cambodian women like the Chreng sisters are thus seen as ideal brides for single Chinese men longing to have a family.
In the past three years, more than 2,000 Chinese men married Cambodian women in the province where Huanggang Village is located. The marriages, usually with a price tag of about 80,000 Chinese Yuan (equivalent of roughly $13,000), are fixed by brokers who bring Cambodian women to China and introduce them to single Chinese men. Some women saw the marriage as a way to live a better life in China; Some were cheated and trafficked by the brokers, finding themselves forced to marry Chinese men.
For a year, I followed Buntha (she's called Bai by her Chinese family), and documented her life in China. Now she is the wife of Zou, a 52-year-old Chinese man, and the mother of a one-year-old son, Zhongwai (which means "Chinese and foreign"). Although she said her husband was nice to her, being so far away from Cambodia has left her constantly homesick and lonely. She wants to stay in China to bring up her son, yet, she cannot help but regret the decision of coming to China in the first place.