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May 19, 2013

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A single-minded approach to finding the perfect partner

Rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of thousands of singles who attended Shanghai's largest matchmaking event yesterday, in suburban Qingpu District.

Singletons, some accompanied by their parents, flocked to the 10,000-Person Matchmaking Event, looking to meet their Mr or Ms Right.

Despite its name, the event, now in its third year, attracted about 18,000 singles to sign up, and organizers estimated some 12,000 attended yesterday.

"Compared with the previous events, the age of participants is younger and there are fewer parents," said Zhou Juemin, director of the Shanghai Matchmaking Association, the industry body that organized the event.

Zhou said singles aged between 21 and 30 accounted for 65 percent of those attending this year, with one third of all participants aged below 25. The youngest singletons were 21.

Deeply worried parents

While there was no charge for singles, family and friends lending support were charged 50 yuan (US$8.06). Zhou said fewer than 2,000 such tickets were sold this year, a drop of 4,000 from 2012.

Last year, single men were confronted by parents quizzing them on their job, income and property, as they sought a match for their daughters.

Of the singles, this time 54 percent are women, Zhou said.

The growing number of unmarried, well-educated people, particularly women, has deeply worried parents in China.

Among those looking for a partner was Jocelyn Jiang, 24, from Putuo District, who sat with a colleague at the opening ceremony casting an eye over passing men for a suitable candidate. She planned to participate in speed-dating activities and games.

"I am not young, and I have missed the golden age of dating," said Jiang, who works for a State-owned enterprise in manufacturing sector.

"And most boys around my age with good characters are already married," she added.

Jiang said she hoped to find a local with a degree. "But no-one's caught my eye yet," she admitted.

Alex Wang, 25, who works in media, said his parents put pressure on him to settle down. "I'm not worried, but they are," the Shandong Province native said.

Wang said he liked one girl he'd met at the event, but was put off because she was taller than him.

Women in their late-20s and men in their mid-30s are sometimes called "leftover" people in China.

"Leftover men and women have become a social problem," organizer Zhou said.

The two-day event finishes today.


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