Planet China

Oh boy!

2017 was a breakthrough year for the sharing economy in China. Pride of place went to the bike borrowing schemes now featuring in many cities, although we also talked about borrowing BMWs in Shenyang (WiC388) and sharing sex dolls in Beijing (WiC382).

Haikou on the island of Hainan added more headlines in December for its own interpretation of the trend – ‘shared boyfriends’ who could be hired to accompany local ladies around a city mall.

Six young men were on offer to carry bags, pick out clothes and take pictures with their partners for the princely sum of just one yuan an hour.

“Only single women are allowed to participate; they must be respectful of the rules of the event; and they shouldn’t scare the ‘boyfriends’ away,” the crowds of ladies showing interest were warned.

Indeed, the men were so popular that they were soon complaining of exhaustion in their duties, despite assurances that they were “trying to avoid physical contact” with their customers.

The scheme turned out to be a promotional gimmick. Each of the men was an employee at the mall, although the company was unapologetic about the ploy.

“All of our executives are tall and good-looking,” a manager at the shopping centre explained.


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