Liu Facai is desperate to hire a "girlfriend" during the Spring Festival holiday.
The 31-year-old sales manager works in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, and has posted a notice on a bulletin board of cnool.net, the largest Web portal in the province.
The offer: 6,000 yuan (US$878) for five days.
The reason: to present her before his parents in his hometown of Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, to stop them from pestering him to find a girlfriend and get married.
"My parents have been pushing me for a long time to find a girlfriend and asked me to bring her home for Spring Festival," Liu says.
He has left his personal information and blog address on the website. "It's always better to be honest," he says. "My price is competitive," though.
Nearly 400 applicants have responded within three days, he says. "Many girls have contacted me and want to meet me."
As for his blog, it has attracted more than 20,000 browsers.
Liu says the ideal candidate should have "a kind heart, high level of personal integrity, and good communication skills".
He has worked out an agreement, too, which includes "project" content, daily schedules, payment method and safety precautions. "Both parties should act according to the provisions of the agreement," he says.
The Lunar New Year holiday is the most important family holiday. It can be the most trying times for some eligible singles, too.
Just how desperate youths become to please their parents during the festival can be gauged from Liu-like advertisements. Many Internet forums are already flooded with such ads.
But instead of men, it's women between 25 and 40 who have posted most of the ads.
More than 20 such ads have been posted on Tianya.cn, a popular website among youths. Almost the same number of such postings can be seen on Xici.net, another popular website.
"For China's 'lonely hearts club', Spring Festival can be a nightmare," says Xing Yun, who is graduating in history. Xing is among those single men who have to face inquisitive relatives, overtly concerned with their love or marital life.
"With increasing social pressures and busy work schedules, more and more people are finding it difficult to find a life partner. That's why some people devise ways (such as hiring a 'girlfriend') to ease the worries of their parents," says Yang Liang, who teaches sociology in Zhejiang University.
(China Daily January 21, 2009)