Phase two of the search will begin on July 20 when organisers start sifting through CVs and vetting the would-be husbands in a series of face-to-face meetings with relationship specialists and fortune-tellers in hotels around China.

A shortlist of 100 men will be invited on an all-expenses-paid trip to Chengdu on August 23, China’s Valentines’ Day, for dinner dates with the 36 women, all aged between 28 and 49.

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Last month the People’s Daily newspaper warned that “social harmony and stability” could be threatened if millions of rural men were unable to find partners.

But China’s super-rich women are facing problems of their own, said Mr Du, not least finding time to scout for would-be husbands.

Competition for a place at the table will be fierce.

Applicants must have a “minimum standard” of education and be the same age or older than the love-starved millionaires.

So far around 1,500 men have signed up, including one Australian and several applicants from the US and Canada.

UK-based graduates of “famous [British] universities” had also applied, he said.“They are not looking for toyboys,” said Mr Du, who is 45 and holds a Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Minnesota but said he was happily married with two children.“They are looking for guys who are very mature, understanding and very supportive, with a sense of humour and good taste [and] who know how to enjoy life and are honest.” A taste for Mahjong — a traditional Chinese gambling game — was also desirable, he added.So men, before you break out into a cold sweat, know that all this is well intended and researched. Since I got married for the first time at 51, I can speak from experience when it comes to dating men in their 50s.I've gathered input from three of my most trusted single girlfriends whose ages range from early 40s to late-50s. We love you guys and want the best for you, so here goes.“After the economic reform in China many people [in Sichuan] became very rich, both men and women,” Mr Du pointed out.