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September 23, 2012

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Singles take plunge at matchmaking party

MICHELLE Mao sat nervously with other single women as she waited for a speed-dating event to start yesterday in Shanghai. She was dressed up and looked closely at each man.

"I am worried as I get a little older that I won't get married and my parents give me a lot of pressure as well," the 28-year-old accountant said. She did not know whether the three-minute dates would help her spot Mr Right.

Mao is among hundreds of single women who attended a matchmaking party with bachelors with good jobs at large, state-owned firms such as Baosteel and Shanghai Urban Construction Group. It was held at Haiwan Forest Park in suburban Fengxian District.

The mass blind date, hosted by the Shanghai Matchmakers Association, was supposed to attract 1,000 singles, but only about 500 attended as many were put off by the rainy weather.

Women were charged 100 yuan (US$16) while the men were not charged as their labor unions covered the fees.

Organizers said the gender balance was good with only 20 or 30 more women than men, but it looked as though females significantly outnumbered males.

Wang Chuan, a reporter who was doing a story on the event, was invited to join the speed dating by staff workers to make up for the shortage of men.

"I was surprised when a woman who was born in 1979 wanted to talk to me. I told her there is almost a 10-year age difference between us," the 24-year-old man said. In China, it is traditionally believed that a woman should be younger than the man she marries.

Many men complained about the huge age difference. Women aged around 30 years old or above accounted for the majority of female participants, according to organizers, while many males were in their mid twenties.

"All females I had talked to are 'sisters'," said 25-year-old Tang Donghu, who works at Baosteel. He said about 25 percent of his colleagues who applied for the event did not come.

Wang Rui, 24, who also works at Baosteel, said it was the first time he had participated in such a matchmaking party.

"I just want to have a look and see whether there is anyone suitable," Wang said.

The growing number of unmarried, well-educated people, particularly women, has deeply worried their parents. Zhou Juemin, director of the Shanghai Matchmakers Association, said about 8 to 10 percent of couples will tie the knot after meeting at a matchmaking party.


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