Having a mistress raises a man's status, especially if the woman is college educated:
Throughout China's dynastic history, keeping mistresses was not only tolerated, but actually had the official seal of approval from the men at the top. The country's emperors maintained legendary harems of concubines, as did noblemen, wealthy merchants and anyone seeking to enhance their social status. Indeed, the country's most famous classic novel, Dream of the Red Chamber, relates the story of an imperial concubine in the Qing dynasty who supports her entire family, including its own numerous concubines, thanks to the emperor's patronage.I have no idea how common this phenomenon might be, but it seems that girls are now being educated in how to avoid becoming mistresses. As the end of the linked article notes, it would seem to make more sense to educate the men. Or to educate both sexes.
That historical context has perpetuated the notion that having a mistress equates to having status and power. Now, in today's status-hungry China, keeping a mistress is once again the fashionable thing to do. In some cities, an entire ecosystem has sprung up to support the ernai industry. A recent online exposé revealed an ernai agency in Shanghai that provided a menu of potential college-student mistresses for men willing to pay. The annual maintenance fees ranged from just $3,000 for students in less renowned schools to about $26,000 for students from the best campuses. (See pictures of China on the wild side.)
It's shocking how most of the communist countries return to very traditional views about women when allowed. As if no real societal change could happen while the government ruled everything. The people slept like The Sleeping Beauty, and woke up to roughly the mores and norms which prevailed at the installation of the communist system.
That was probably somewhat exaggerated. But sexism certainly thrives in several ex-Communist countries, still awaiting the Prince(ss) Charming of real feminism.
Never mind. What I really wanted to write about is the oddity of this whole mistress idea especially if it really has something to do with the idea of having multiple mistresses or a wife and a mistress.
Consider that China is a country with excess men, a problem which will only become worse in the future. The last thing that would seem to make sense under those circumstances is unofficial polygamy. There will be millions of men who can find no female spouse at all even without it.