And Finally

Go forth and multiply

Push to promote marriage as population figures are called into question

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Finding their soulmates

China might not be the world’s most populous country. That’s the finding of Yi Fuxian, a Chinese scientist based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States. Yi has estimated there are 90 million fewer Chinese than the current figure provided by the National Bureau of Statistics, which would mean there are now more people living in India than in China.

China’s official head count is 1.38 billion. India’s is 1.33 billion. But if Yi is right China actually has 1.29 billion people, or about 90 million less than thought.

Which might go some way to explaining why officials at the Communist Youth League have been so keen on organising blind dates for young members, in the hope that they will boost marriage numbers and birth rates.

Speaking to the media last week, a senior official at the league said the problem of people getting married late or not at all was worsening across the country. One solution has been to arrange special events where unmarried people can meet. Apparently, there have already been 16 of these mass gatherings, helping over 200 people meet their mates.

“We believe that finding love and marriage is one of the biggest problems facing our youth,” said He Junke of the Youth League. “By the time young people have graduated from college, found a job and established themselves they are already in their late twenties. By the time they think about marriage they are old and have a very narrow social circle,” he added.

Yet China’s singletons are getting mixed messages on how to hook up. Mid-month, a member of the China Women’s Development Foundation told female students at Jiujiang University that “virginity was the best gift they could give their husbands”. Ding Xuan, an expert on traditional Chinese culture, also told the women they should dress modestly to avoid sexual assault.

A few days later a vocational college in the coastal city of Rizhao launched a publicity campaign against “uncivilised behaviour” including kissing, cuddling and holding hands in public (see Planet China on page 5 for more).

Many young Chinese have had enough of parents, colleges and companies interfering in their love lives. Some have hit out at the matchmaking drives too, saying that their employers have been threatening to record it as a missed day at work if they don’t attend.

“All the unmarried people in my company were forced to go on a mass blind date where the men had to lift up the women in their arms like brides. It was really awkward,” one woman complained to the Global Times.


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