A large number of affluent men in China want to be “sugar daddies”, keeping younger women as mistresses or girlfriends, according to a matchmaking website. SeekingArrangement.com, a site that specialises in hooking up wealthier men and women with younger partners, said about 100,000 men on the mainland had joined its service in recent months. The US-based website launched its Chinese version in September last year and said membership had increased rapidly. About a quarter of the men are married. Media in China have dubbed the site a “broker for gold diggers” and it has created controversy on the mainland since its launch. Some media suggested it would encourage young women to follow the example of the internet celebrity Guo Meimei, a 23-year-old who enjoyed publicly flaunting her luxury lifestyle which was later revealed to have been funded by a married businessman from Shenzhen. The Chinese matchmaking service says on its website its members are “successful”, “charming”, financially stable men with a mature character who will “share life experiences with you and take you shopping, for expensive dinners and overseas sightseeing”. Beijing has the largest number of would-be “sugar daddies” on the mainland with about 10,000 site members, according to SeekingArrangement.com. They each have an average of about 12 million yuan (HK$15 million) in assets, based on the figures they supplied when registering. Shanghai follows with nearly 8,000 members, with claimed average assets of 15 million yuan. Most members on the mainland are in their early 30s and give their partners between 10,000 yuan and 20,000 yuan a month, according to the website. There are two women for every man using the Chinese site, as women can join free. Website founder Brandon Wade said the platform aimed to help poorer women, mostly college students, ease their financial burdens. It also helped businessmen find the right date and emphasised that sex was not a necessary condition for any relationships, he said. “The average age of sugar daddies has been decreasing each year, suggesting that professionals today have no time for traditional dating and so they want to find high-quality dates quickly via an effective method,” he said. Professor Yu Hai, who studies sociology at Fudan University in Shanghai, was critical of the site. “I don’t see much difference between this so-called sugar dating and sexual transactions,” he said. “If someone is looking for a serious relationship that can last, there are plenty of other ways. “If one is well off and kind enough to think of aiding a poverty-stricken student, he could also donate through various channels.” The increased wealth of some Chinese has led to a loss of moral self-discipline, according to Yu. “Just look at officials today. Even those clear of corruption keep mistresses,” he said.