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UPDATED: March 12, 2012 NO. 11 MARCH 15, 2012
I Do, Do I?
A detailed survey on marriage reveals changing attitudes among young people
By Bai Shi

PARENTS MEETING: Anxious parents consult a marriage broker to arrange dates for their unmarried adult children at the People's Park in Shanghai on August 27, 2011 (FAN XIAOMING)

Li met a woman, who is also a Beijinger with a Master's Degree, on Jiayuan.com in October 2010. They fell in love at first sight and got married seven months later.

"I was inspired by my friends," Li said. Two of his friends found their partners on online dating websites and got married. Li then wrote a vivid description of himself and five qualifications for potential dates.

But virtual romance has its own pitfalls and dangers. Some websites simply aim to defraud users of money. To avoid the potential for fraud, some service providers and customers ask for real-name registration on their dating websites.

Li said he never wrote emails to women without a real-name registration. As Li sees it, a sincere and honest person would always upload their real information. "Some men on the dating websites are only keen on searching for one night romance, while some women are out there for money."

"Our real-name registration scheme took effect last year. Up till now, more than 80 percent of our users register with their real names," said Mu Yan, Vice President of Baihe.com. "Starting from March 1 of this year, we are going to realize the goal of 100 percent real name registration," he said.

"Real-name registration works well and complaints have decreased 70 percent," Mu added.

"Online dating service providers have a responsibility to offer a real and credible service for customers," said Fan Aiguo, Secretary General of Chinese Family and Marriage Research Association at the All-China Women's Federation. "Real-name registration is the first step to solve problems of credibility."

The Internet, however, is not the only modern medium now being used as a matchmaking platform.

TV dating shows have become wildly popular. A well-known TV show titled Fei Cheng Wu Rao (If You Are the One) has consistently been the top-rated show in China since it was unveiled by Jiangsu TV in 2010. During the program, 24 women stand in a line, each atop a podium lit by a spotlight. A male suitor then uses two or three video clips to reveal information about himself. After the video clips are shown, each girl can chose to turn off the spotlight, if she is not interested in the man, or leave it on if she is. If all the lights go off, the man loses. If some lights are still on, the man can choose from amongst the remaining girls, or simply walk away. The success of the show has spawned various imitations across other TV stations.

A recent survey indicates that about 5 percent of TV dating show participants end up marrying partners they choose on the program. However even those who fail to find an ideal partner during a show often enjoy romantic success as they receive numerous love letters and proposals from admirers amongst the program's audience.

The unparalleled popularity of TV dating shows and online dating sites reveal the extent to which young Chinese are willing to embrace new technology in their search for love.

Along with new forms of dating and new ways of finding partners, relationships in China are also now subject to new changes of attitudes.

Prenuptial agreements are becoming a common practice for couples getting married. Half of the respondents have a positive attitude to property identification before marriage. The figure means that young people are increasingly rational about property and assets and would like to resolve possible property issues through legal means.

Email us at: baishi@bjreview.com

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