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August 12, 2009

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September 9 has lovers agog

NINE is the number of true love around China - and Shanghai is no exception.

The biggest marriage registration peak since last year's Beijing Olympic Games is expected to hit on September 9.

Online marriage appointments in the downtown area have already been booked out.

However, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said it was ready for registration "rush hour."

As "nine" has the same pronunciation as "forever" in Chinese, September 9, 2009, has attracted many lovers who want to stay with each other forever.

Up to yesterday, at least 650 couples made online appointments for registration, about 150 more than usual.

"These numbers have not occurred since August 8 last year, when the Olympic Games opened," said Zhou Jixiang, director of the bureau's marriage management division.

The bureau has updated its online marriage registration appointment system.

The new system would ensure each window of the registration office received only one couple every 20 minutes, officials said.

Several district branches of the bureau have begun emergency plans to deal with the registration peak, such as making face-to-face appointments available.

The bureau also said it would not limit registration numbers on the busy day.

"We will refer to what we did on August 8 as a guide," said Wang Haiying, director of the marriage registration office of the bureau's Yangpu District branch. "We are more experienced now."

New couples who want to register on the day describe the date as "significant and romantic."

Lin Shiren, a 27-year-old civil servant, said he and his fiancee failed to secure an online appointment, but were trying to arrange a face-to-face appointment.

"We will try our luck on the day even if we can't get the appointment," he said.

On August 8 last year, 7,190 couples registered for marriage in Shanghai, the highest daily number since 1949.


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