Single Chinese rent dates to beat holiday pressures

Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:30am EST
 
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By Yu Le

BEIJING (Reuters) - Among the hundreds of millions of young Chinese couples heading back to family homes for the Lunar New Year holiday this week, some have a secret -- they are traveling not for love but money.

Young Chinese from smaller towns and villages still face withering parental pressure to marry in their early twenties, and some pay good money to hire the right type to bring home and please anxious parents, at least for a few vacation days.

This 'rent-a-date' trade springs up on China's Internet bulletin boards around the week-long holiday, fueled by harried professionals looking for a pretend partner who will smile and say the right things.

"Girl friend wanted, will pay per day," wrote one man surnamed Wang, on the popular Baidu website (tieba.baidu.com).

"Requirements: pretty, good body, around 1.6 meters, under 23 years old. Please contact me if you are interested."

The 25-year-old, who declined to give his full name, grew up in a rural part of central China's Henan province and now works in a steel plant in Chengde, a city north of Beijing.

Wang was still comfortably under the average age for marrying in big cities -- about 29 years old for men and 27 for women.

But coming from the rural backwoods -- where the average marriage ages are 23 and 22 years old respectively -- he faces pressure to pair up.   Continued...