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The price of love

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2013-01-20 10:09

The price of love

Young people under pressure to tie the knot are resorting to the desperate measure of employing fake dates to meet and mislead their demanding parents.

A New Year service with Chinese characteristics is the rental of young men and women who pose as dates to fool parents. It may sound suspicious to a Western ear, but if you look deeper, it's much newer than the world's oldest profession.

The price of love

Here is an ad on Taobao, the nation's largest online mall: The price for a kiss is set at 50 yuan ($8), and that's for a social kiss, not the French kind. Window shopping costs 30 yuan an hour, dining out is 50 and going to the movie will set you back 30 - or 60, if it's a horror flick.

Or you can pay the daily all-inclusive rate of 600 yuan.

Of course, your companion-for-rent will not share the cost of the meal or the movie ticket. But hand-holding and the farewell peck on the cheek are thrown in as gifts or free samples, for that matter.

This is certainly not the place to look for romance.

A gentleman is supposed to act chivalrous and pick up the bill, not charge 50 yuan for a kiss. If you turn around and see it as real-life acting, you'll understand that China has a market simmering with pent-up demand.

Data published by Chinese media put the number of singles in the country at 180 million.

Although a detailed breakdown by age is hard to come by, it is common knowledge that the number of unwed older than, say, 30, is staggeringly high and growing by leaps and bounds.

Unlike in Western countries, most of them in China intend to marry but are simply unable to.

Most of the hurdles that block a big chunk of the young demographic from family life (other than that of a family of one) can be measured in material terms.

Say, a young man of 25 leaves college and finds a job in Beijing. Say, he makes 7,000 yuan a month. How long does he have to save before he can afford an apartment? OK, even one outside the Fifth Ring Road.

The skyrocketing property prices are probably the No 1 reason people remain bachelors. Some parents use their life savings for their children's down payment, but then the parents would have to be middle-class with wads of cash stashed away.

Why not rent?

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