Monday, January 9, 2012

Rent a Date for Chinese New Year

Finding another half is a big pressure for the young generation in China. Due to one-child policy implementation in China, the population between males and females in China becomes a huge imbalance where there are more men than women in cities and villages. Majority of Chinese parents prefer to raise baby boys more than girls. According to Chinese custom, man carries and passes down the family name to the next generation as well as to take care his parents at later stage. A lot of unreported sources claimed that many parents kill, abandon or abort female infants so that, they keep trying to conceive baby boys. Keeping more than one child in a family is considered illegal, the parents will be fined with hefty prices or to be fired from being government servants.

Source: Global Times | January 10, 2012 By Mo Ting

 A man holds a piece of paper that says renting a girlfriend to visit parents 
with during the Spring Festival. (Photo: Global Times)

Filial piety has long been hailed as a great virtue in traditional Chinese culture. It is so crucial, even among young people today, that some will go as far as to "rent" a boyfriend or girlfriend during the Chinese New Year just to please their parents back home.

Turning from simply a concept into reality, the business of renting partners has thrived in recent years, especially when tens of millions of single men and women are planning trips home to reunite with their families for the most important holiday of the year - Spring Festival.

As a result, advertisements for such services abound on the Internet, offering a boyfriend or girlfriend at different prices based on their looks, education and manners.

Girlfriend for hire

Song Haiyang is someone who has chosen to use the service. The 28-year-old bachelor, who runs a packaging plant in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, hired a girlfriend to accompany him while visiting his parents in Sichuan Province last Spring Festival.

"My parents have been urging me [to find a girlfriend] for a long time, but they are not something you just get whenever you want," Song told the Global Times.

As a solution, he hired someone to pose as his girlfriend for 10 days. She charged 700 yuan a day, which was a bargain for Song as she had originally asked for 1,000 yuan a day.

In return, Song got to hug or hold her hand in front of his friends and relatives, but no kissing or sleeping in the same bed was allowed, as stated in a contract Song signed with the dating website.

To find "Miss Right," Song said that he had originally selected more than 10 girls on dating websites and interviewed them face to face.

According to him, their different appearances, manners and education backgrounds determined their prices, with the most expensive one charging about 2000 yuan a day and the cheapest one charging 300 yuan a day.

Song added that girls who are "beautiful or hot" cost more, and are usually from the art colleges in Guangzhou, while the less expensive ones are average-looking.

"It turned out to be a happy ending," Song said. "It might have been a lie, but a white lie. Since last year's Spring Festival, my parents have stopped pressuring me to get hitched and I felt proud in front of my friends when I had this girlfriend at my side."

Services agreed upon

These kinds of services are not scarce on the Internet.

On, China's largest auctioning website, there are at least 716 services that offer boyfriends for hire and 1,495 that offer girlfriends for hire.

The slogan for one of the stores reads, "As you age, are you facing increasing pressure from your irresistible parents to get married? Hire a boyfriend or girlfriend as a companion for your trip home and they will help you deal with your parents and friends who concern themselves with your personal life."

The online shops listed details of the service which include hanging out in public together, friendly conversation, attending friends' parties, seeing a film together, and remarkably, kisses priced at 10 yuan each.

"Our young generation is facing great pressures at work and economically that hinder them in building a family, but traditional values require them to marry as soon as possible," said Peng Xiaohui, a vice secretary-general of the World Association of Chinese Sexologists, adding that Chinese parents' expectations for their children's marriage prospects are mismatched with their current economic status.

"Even though the young generation in China is exposed to different cultures and lifestyles, traditional Chinese values are still prevailing," Peng said.

Legal issues

Chen Xifeng, an associate professor at Xiamen University's School of Law, said contracts for the hiring of a boyfriend or girlfriend are invalid and not protected by the law.

"Although different parties in the contract are well-intentioned, this kind of contract is inclined to cause many disputes," Chen said.

"So it is better to be prudent when hiring a partner," Chen told the Global Times.

Chen said that these contracts could be deemed as emotionally damaging by the customers' family and friends, or a third party, who have not signed the agreement and might seek damages, according to Chen.


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