According to Bruner, John King Fairbank, and Richard J. Smith, one of the necessary conditions of high-class life for Westerners in China was to have a Chinese woman. This kind of woman was actually a walking commodity, which could be bought or sold by any foreign merchants. “At that time, the price for a foreigner to have a Chinese concubine was about 40 silver dollars” according to Herder. Powell, an American who lived in Shanghai temporarily, described the situation of formal or informal interracial marriages in Shanghai as “Shanghai could be considered as a city of men”. Nine out of ten foreigners in Shanghai were bachelors, and therefore many friendly relationships developed and resulted in numerous international marriages, which even the American Marine Corps quartered at Shanghai took part in. “Once I asked a chaplain of the Marine Corps whether these marriages were happy or not. He answered ‘just like other marriages’.
According to Bruner, foreign businessmen could easily buy Chinese women in China, and therefore many of them were registered single on the household registration form.
Yet, in general, there were not many interracial marriages between the Chinese and the Westerners in modern Shanghai. According to Xiong, it was estimated that after being opened as a commercial port between 1843 and 1949, there were no more than 100 cases of formal marriage between the Chinese and Westerners in Shanghai over 106 years.
For a long time, English settlers in Shanghai resolutely were opposed to marriage with the Chinese. In 1908, the English envoy in China sent out a confidential document, harshly condemning marriages with the Chinese and threatening to expel the violators of this rule from the English circle forever.
The community of English residents in Shanghai had a harsher restriction upon English women as they believed it was treacherous for noble English women to marry humble Chinese men. One English man wrote in his letter to his sister that “if you dared to have an affair with Asian men in Shanghai, you would never stay here well.” In the middle of the 1930s, the Department of the Far East under the English Foreign Ministry tried its best to persuade those English women who had an intention to marry Chinese men not to do so. In the official book, it warned that marrying Chinese men may cause loss of British nationality, which meant that those British women who married Chinese men would no longer be protected by British law in China.