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Matchmaking show spawns copycat events

By Zou Shuo in Changsha and Liu Kun in Wuhan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-12 09:15
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Young people attend a matchmaking performance resembling the popular "Wang Po Matchmaking" at Huanlian night market in Jinan, Shandong province, on Tuesday. [Photo by Wang Feng/For China Daily]

After Kaifeng's Wang Po goes viral, other cities jump on bandwagon

Many tourist attractions in China have launched matchmaking services to attract travelers, following the unexpected popularity of a similar program at a scenic spot in Kaifeng, Henan province.

The daily matchmaking performance, dubbed "Wang Po Matchmaking", or Granny Wang Matchmaking, has met with great enthusiasm since March.

Wang Po is a character who runs a matchmaking business in Water Margin — one of China's "Four Great Classical Novels" — which is set against the backdrop of the end of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).

In Kaifeng, performers playing Wang Po wear traditional Chinese clothes and pair up tourists who venture onto the stage. The location is often packed with travelers who come from across the country to find loved ones or simply have a good time.

Videos on Wang Po's account on Douyin have garnered 6.54 billion views, and related hashtags on the Sina Weibo micro blog platform have attracted 360 million views. Followers on Douyin jumped from 230,000 on March 15 to almost 6.5 million on Thursday.

The program's popularity has also led to a tourism boom in Kaifeng. According to China Central Television, hotel bookings in the city jumped almost tenfold during this year's Tomb Sweeping Festival.

Scenic spots in other cities such as Wuhan, Hubei province, and Xi'an, Shaanxi province, have also launched such matchmaking services.

Yu Hongmei, president of Fengwa ancient village in Wuhan, said the scenic spot launched a matchmaking program on April 2, which has helped more than 100 people find interested mates.

"Most people signing up for the matchmaking service believe in love at first sight and meeting someone by accident," she added.

With more young Chinese people choosing to get married at an older age, there is a growing demand for "matchmaking corners".

The Chinese government has also issued pro-marriage policies to encourage young people to get married early by making marriage registration easier for couples from different provincial regions and promoting simpler wedding procedures.

Local governments have also established databases for unmarried young people and hold various kinds of matchmaking activities.

According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, 7.68 million couples registered to get married last year, up by 12.4 percent from 2022, which marked the first increase since 2014.

Han Wanyun, senior psychological counselor at the civil affairs department in Qinghai province, said matchmakers such as Wang Po can ignite affection between strangers by using humor.

Local governments and institutions should hold more cultural and entertainment activities for young people to meet potential partners, which can bring tourism revenue and also promote marriages, she told China Women's News.

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