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Chinese Dating Customs

I know the topic of Chinese dating customs has already been discussed several times and if I missed any topic, I'll be glad if you point me toward it.

A Chinese guy asked me out yesterday. I like him well enough (actually thought about maybe dating him sometime in the future last time we met), great. There are a few things that I found strange though :
- He asked me while chatting on the internet as he is currently in Shanghai (I live in France, it's where we met) : apparently he was too afraid to ask me directly
- This was the first time we talked in about three months : apparently he had visa issues and had to go back to China so his French mobile was disconected but this is solved and he is coming back this weekend
- We only saw each other 3 times (and exchanged a few e-mails) : once at a pub, once he took me to dinner and the third time we went to watch a movie (which I managed to pay for, after a long discussion ^^)

Now, if a French guy acted this way, I would never go out with him and I would assume he is looking for a fling. I know I'm backward and up-tight (according to my french friends), but it seems to me we don't know each other well enough to start dating yet. Or does "dating" have a different meaning in China ? More like "courting" ? I'll talk to him about it (he is really interested in French culture so he'll probably want to know anyway) but if I could avoid a cultural blunder on the first date, it would be nice.

I know this is vague and calling for stereotypes. What is true for one person isn't true for everyone else. But, in your personal experience.

It really depends. Some Chinese guys basically date with intent to marry, but some others are expecting sex asap. No telling what your guy expects, how his personality influences this, what he expects in dating a non-Chinese, Western woman as opposed to possible previous dating Chinese women, how his outlook is changing from being exposed to a different culture, etc etc. What exactly his behaviour means is hard to tell. If I were you I'd probably endlessly speculate, but being on the outside it's easier to keep cool :-) Best just take his invitation at face value: he'd like to spend time with you. As you'd like to spend time with him, so far your goals are the same.

My advice would be to take it slow. You say you're not interested in something fast short-term, so that would suit you. If he just wants a fling, you'll find out soon enough and the worst that would have happened is that you wasted some time.

If you have serious intentions with this guy, you need to be able to talk to him about the cultural differences, because that will continue to come up. So if you're not sure what he means by what he said or did, ask, and if you don't know what he expects or how you can convey how you feel, ask.

Meeting the parents will be pretty far in the future, presumably. Traditionally this is a very serious occasion, if he introduces you to his parents he has very serious intentions. But again, this can depend on the man and the circumstances in question. Best to discuss your and his expectations when that time comes, no need to worry about that yet.

I've found that a good way to show you care is feeding him. If you can cook, great; if not, put food on his plate when eating out, have him try what you're having, etc.