An agency in China employs “spies” to sabotage extra-marital relationships.
These so-called “mistress hunters” will insert themselves into the lives of people who are romantically involved with someone who is already married. Commonly known as ‘the other woman’ in English speaking countries, these people are called xiao san in China. This translates to ‘little third’.
Once the consultants from the Weiqing (protector of feelings) agency have gained the little third’s trust, they will attempt to steer them away from their love interest. Speaking to the Irish Times, a long-time mistress hunter explained that one of the main aims of the group is to “communicate to them that there are better options available than getting involved in someone else’s relationship”.
In addition to talking the little thirds out of their relationships, the consultants also employ other tactics to achieve their goals. They sometimes use “the transference method, where we distract their attention to something else” or they can “organise it so that [the little thirds’] jobs get moved somewhere else”.
Weiqing has 59 offices across China with more than 300 people working as consultants, all of whom have qualifications in law, psychology or marriage counselling. Their services have become incredibly popular as “so many people suffer in their marriages and need help managing their relationships. Demand always exceeds supply” the mistress hunter said.
This popularity is indicative of how prevalent infidelity appears in the country’s wider culture. In 2012, President Xi Jinping waged an anti-corruption effort which led to thousands of government officials being punished: 95 per cent of whom had mistresses. This is also reflected in the language, as the Chinese have several phrases to describe those who are unfaithful. Cheating spouses are called you yi tui or ‘have one leg’, conjuring the image of a leg wrapped around a partner. Other names for little thirds include er nai or ‘second wife’ and xiao mi which translates as ‘little honey’.
While the mistress hunting side of the agency’s work grabs the headlines, Weiqing also provides couples’ counselling. One of their clients, a 35 year-old mother of one from Shanghai, approached the organisation when her husband “started to delete his messages and come home late, working overtime a lot”. An affair was quickly uncovered but the couple stayed together with the help of therapy. The wife said counselling gave her husband the chance “to express his feelings, complaining how I don’t care enough about him and always pay too much attention to our child”. This helped them get past his infidelity and now “the affair is over” she said.