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Homecoming interrogations trouble young Chinese

(China Daily)

09:56, February 01, 2013

(Xinhua Photo)

Getting a ticket home for the Spring Festival holiday is a headache on its own. But the "interrogations" that parents spring on their hapless children during the festival are proving to be just as hard to handle for some young Chinese.

The festival, which begins on Feb 10 this year, marks the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year, as well as serves as an important occasion for family reunions.

A recent post on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, lists a string of questions that young people are likely to encounter when they go back to see their relatives, including invasive questions about their salaries and marital status.

Nearly 200,000 people have commented on the post, revealing their own embarrassing experiences.

A woman named Geng Lu cited a litany of questions that she's faced during previous visits.

"How much did you get for the year-end bonus? Do you have a boyfriend yet? When are you going to get married?" she wrote.

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"The cross-interrogations freak me out. The thought of being embarrassed makes me hesitant to rush home for the upcoming Spring Festival," the 24-year-old woman said.

Geng is one of an increasing number of young people who say they feel suffocated by their relatives' overwhelming concern about their private lives.

The difficulty young people are having in accepting their relatives' well-intended inquiries can be attributed to the fact that the two generations are growing apart in terms of how they believe the former should live their lives, said Xia Xueluan, a professor from the sociology department of Peking University.

For centuries, Chinese parents have believed in marrying their sons and daughters off at an early time, with the birth of grandchildren expected not long after.

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However, contemporary youngsters are inclined to set their own timetables regarding marriage and childbirth, Xia said.

Salaries, like marital status, are more a matter of privacy that young people would rather their parents did not pry into.

In order to avoid being embarrassed in front of their relatives, some young Chinese have resorted to white lies regarding their salaries and marital status.

"It's frustrating to admit that I haven't got a girlfriend, so I decided to rent one online and take her home to meet my parents and relatives," Internet user "Jia Wenyu" wrote on Sina Weibo, referring to an emerging online business that provides "fake" boyfriends or girlfriends for singles who wish to avoid being harassed by their families.

"The essence of the Lunar New Year should be family reunions and affection, which should not be overshadowed by materialism," said Zhang Taofu, a journalism professor at Fudan University.

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