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Singles get chance to flaunt their status
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For 31-year-old PR executive Joy Xu, being single is not a matter for celebration.

"Singles' Day only reminds me of the fact that I'm still single and have to keep looking for Mr Right," she said yesterday.

"Today is a sad day for me but I don't want to appear upset in public."

Singles' Day, which falls on November 11, originated on Chinese campuses during the 1990s. The date is earmarked for singles because it comprises four "1s" (11-11), reminding people of the Chinese word for bachelors - "bare branches". Since then, it has often been an occasion for singles to get together and celebrate - and maybe look for a change in status.

It has never been designated an official celebration but has become increasingly popular in recent years as the number of singles keeps rising.

"I hope I am not single the next Singles' Day," Xu said wistfully, although she said she made the same wish last year and the year before.

Like her, singles around the country are struggling to find life partners.

Official figures show that men aged from 20 to 45 far outnumber women in the same age bracket; and by 2020, there will be a surplus of 30 million men of marriageable age. But it is not making it more easier for women to find spouses.

"Like in most other big cities, Shanghai has many unmarried women with high education and high pay," said sociologist Xu Anqi.

"While women look for better educated men with higher social status, men prefer their partners to be young and pretty."

A recent survey conducted by job-finding website zhaopin.com shows most respondents think women should marry by 28 and men by 30 before their chances of finding an ideal partner start to get slimmer.

For some, Singles' Day is just another occasion to go out with friends and celebrate. Wu Qiong, a 30-year-old freelance art designer, said she does not feel down and plans to go partying with other single friends.

"It's not Valentine's Day, anyway," she said.

Ge Xipeng, 28, a car salesman, will be out for dinner with five single friends, male and female. He broke up with his girlfriend early this year.

"It is more like old friends catching up," he said. "But everyone at the table is single, and, who knows?"

For others, the day doesn't mean much.

Zhang Bing, a 34-year-old engineer who is divorced, said he was not even aware of such a day.

"I am not going to celebrate it anyway," he said. "It's not just about meeting girls at parties. You have to find the right one."

To mark the day, the China Bachelors' Association and Entertainment Express newspaper in Changsha recently selected the top 10 singles for 2008.

They are: film star Michelle Yeoh, director Zhang Yimou, TV anchor Li Xiang, writers Zhang Yiyi and Wang Shuo, NBA star Yi Jianlin, and three Olympic gold medalists: He Wenna (trampoline), Zhang Yining (table tennis) and Long Qingquan (weightlifting).

(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2008)

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