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“Gong’s class was on the fourth floor.” Her mother was undeterred: “School was her only way out.

We didn’t want her to work in the fields like us.”The medical bills drove the family into debt, which tormented Gong.

She recently released a book, “Love Well, Don’t Get Hurt,” and her advice reads like an argument against China’s ancient pieties.

If your mother-in-law sees you as “nothing but a baby-maker” and your husband won’t help, she told one new wife, forget the husband, “get some courage, and get out of that family.” In the case of a newly rich couple with the husband sleeping around, she applauded the wife for not becoming a “blubbering, feeble, pitiful creature,” and, instead, making him sign a contract that will cost him all his assets if he cheats again.

Your customers, she told them, will be virtually indistinguishable from yourselves: strivers, alone in the city, separated from love by “three towering mountains”—no money, no time, and no connections.

I met Gong six years ago, after she received a master’s degree in journalism and entered the dating business.

(“If anyone ever liked me, I have yet to hear about it.”) She spent her childhood at the foot of a mountain in the village of Waduangang, in Hunan, the home province of Chairman Mao. During the Cultural Revolution, they were paired because they had been branded as “well-off peasants,” one of the Five Black Categories.

When Gong was sixteen, her test scores got her into the top local high school, a transformative moment for a farming family.

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She was five feet three, with narrow shoulders, and when she talked about her business I got the feeling that she was talking about herself.1 matchmaker,” even though her business is a rebuke to the essence of matchmaking.Despite her company’s name, Gong projects nothing more plainly than a conviction that fate is obsolete.She was nothing like the other Web entrepreneurs I’ve come to know in China.For one thing, the top ranks of Chinese technology are dominated by men.

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