BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Lonely this Christmas? Spare a thought for Beijing's billionaires.
The country's economic boom over the last three decades may have generated a clutch of super-wealthy Chinese, but it has not guaranteed all of them love.
Last Sunday, a privileged group of 21 single billionaires and 22 single women attended what state media called one of the Chinese capital's most expensive parties ever -- a match-making ball with tickets costing 100,000 yuan ($14,650) a head.
The 21 billionaires were all registered members of Golden Bachelors, a Shanghai-based match-making agency dedicated to helping wealthy Chinese men and women find their potential better half, which also organized the event.
"It's very hard for billionaires to meet women they want to marry because they have been so career-oriented during the earlier stages of their lives," Golden Bachelor media director Xiao Pu told Reuters.
"They use our agency to filter through suitable partners according to their physical appearance, personality, level of education, level of income and family background," she added.
Some of the 22 ladies hoping to meet the billionaire of their dreams were also registered with the agency, while a lucky few were scouted to attend for free by the agency's "love hunters," or won tickets at beauty pageants sponsored by the agency.
"Every girl has the right to pursue happiness," a 22-year-old surnamed Dai who is studying at a Nanjing arts university told the China Daily.
"I just want to avoid the problems I may be forced to face before falling in love."
The newspaper said that the bachelorettes, dressed in exquisite ball gowns, sang, danced and even cooked their way into the lonely men's hearts during a talent show at the ball.
China's number of known dollar billionaire has now reached 130, higher than any other country bar the United States, according to the 2009 Hurun report.
Similar high-end match-making agencies and parties have also sprung up in other Chinese boomtown cities such as Shenzhen and Shanghai.
Xiao said she was delighted with the success of the event, adding that 80 percent of the couples who attended the inaugural ball went on agency-organized dates to Beijing restaurants and cultural sites the following day.
"Many couples even took their own initiatives to fit in a few extra-special dates outside of the itineraries we planned for them," she said.
Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Miral Fahmy