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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Some rent sweetheart to silence parents' questions

By Guo Nei (China Daily)

14:47, January 19, 2012

A girl cleans her boyfriend's ear in the waiting hall of a long-distance coach station in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, on Tuesday. (China Daily Photo)

BEIJING - Are you in a relationship?

That's probably the most embarrassing question single people get asked during Spring Festival.

As young urbanites head back home for family reunions, their parents, especially those in small towns and rural areas, will try to talk them into, even pressure them to get married as soon as possible. According to Chinese tradition, parents of children of marriageable age who remain single lose face.

To deal with the insistent parents, many single people find a simple solution - renting a girlfriend or boyfriend. This year, micro blogs, online shopping sites and group-buying websites have become the platforms of choice for tech-savvy young people to look for the right co-actor.

Search for "renting a boyfriend/girlfriend to go home during Spring Festival" on taobao.com, China's largest online shopping website, and 64 online stores will surface offering girlfriends for rent who can accompany the buyer back home during Spring Festival. And there's no shortage of men - 444 stores offer boyfriends for rent.

A 24-year-old man surnamed Chen is one of those who will be a temporary boyfriend for a price. The stock dealer left his village in Hunan province two years ago and is working in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

Chen began offering the service two months ago and has already made three deals. He listened to his clients' worries and accompanied them to parties with friends. He might have to comply with sudden demands for hugs and kisses.

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