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Bird's Nest hosts flock of hopefuls

ABOUT 1,000 parents holding silk belts, colored red or blue, wandered between the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube in Beijing over the weekend. They were not doing exercises or safeguarding the security of the Olympic venues, but hunting for marriage partners for their children.

"I'm looking for future husbands for my two daughters and a granddaughter," said a woman surnamed Yin, 65. "I have been doing business in Beijing for a dozen years. What worries me most is they are still single now."

"I came to the match°?making fair here to try my luck," she said.

Hopeful parents carried printouts listing their children's details such as ages, heights, education, hobbies and job prospects, believing their children were either too busy or bashful to find spouses for themselves.

The red silk belt meant parents were looking for wives for their sons, while the blue one meant they were seeking a husband for a daughter.

If both sides felt their children were compatible, they would exchange telephone numbers - theirs or their children's.

The gathering also attracted another 1,000 single men and women seeking love.

"I have been to this kind of dating party several times, but I haven't found the right person," said a woman who was taking a picture of a single man's information card. She declined to give her name.

Organizers said the event had attracted about 500 families by Saturday evening.

Such dating events spring from a growing trend in China in which young adults delay marriage from their early 20s to their 30s or older.

Many young Chinese are finding it difficult to find spouses, as some well-educated people prefer to put their careers ahead of family life, while others list stricter criteria for their future spouses.

Matchmaking companies usually hold dating parties at weekends, holidays, and special dates such as the 11th day of the 11th month, as the digits look like single people.

During an arranged game, a girl from Hebei Province tried to throw a silk ball to a young man she liked the look of, but she failed several times.

Traditionally, a young woman throws a silk ball randomly into a crowd of men, and the one who catches it has the right to propose.


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