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Worldcrunch

Why China's Internet Dating Sites Are Booming

XINHUA, ARROW OF CUPID (China), 

Worldcrunch

BEIJING - China is not only the world's most populous country, but also has a seriously packed "singles scene" of 180 million men and women eager to find their other half.

Recently, a popular TV series called Time To Be Married, depicting Chinese bachelors in their 30s in a desperate search for spouses, has topped audience ratings, according to Xinhua.

Dating as well as marriage services has become an increasingly profitable industry in recent years. “China is going through the process of rapid urbanization in which the old channels of match-making no longer work for people who originally came from the countryside or small towns,” Gong Haiyan told Xinhua.

Gong is the founder of the most popular Chinese online dating platform, Jiayuan.com. Founded in 2003, Jiayuan.com boasts over 68 million registered members and more than five million users monthly. It has become so successful digitally that it now also organizes big off-line blind-dating events across China. This dating site has been publicly traded on the American Nasdaq stock exchange since April 2011.

Chinese are not known for mincing words. Not only are men over 30 referred to as “leftover men,” but women in their late 20s are also considered to be “unwanted dogs” and can be referred to in terms such as “old aunt.”

China has tens of millions of men without any realistic prospect of finding a wife, thanks to the one-child policy imposed by the government which resulted in the large scale abortion of girl fetuses. Even so, women are in general much more active in seeking a partner, according to Arrow of Cupid, another online marriage service.

Screenshot from Arrow of Cupid

“The Chinese are highly conscious about the need to get married. Not only do all the blind dating events we organize attract hundreds of enthusiastic participants in every town, the local governments are also very supportive. And contrary to what many imagine, it’s the women, and rather young women who have only just left college, who are most eager to sign up with these match-making services,” the website says.

According to Gong Haiyan, the biggest advantage of online dating is the massive number of potential candidates one is offered. Nevertheless, in a virtual world where “Everybody is blundering about searching for eternal love in the quickest possible way, it’s so absurd and yet so real,” as one Chinese netizen put it.

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