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Heroes Welcome: Soldiers Keenly Sought After as Spouses
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English graduate Chen Xia has never been short of admirers but the 25-year-old Nanjing native has chosen to tie the knot with a soldier who has neither a college degree nor a fat pay packet.

Her mother, who married a soldier more than 30 years ago, well knows what Chen has in store.

"Married but alone, you have to handle most domestic affairs yourself, as your husband is mostly away," said Zhang Yufen, Chen's mother. 

Zhang had several frank discussions with her daughter but the two ended up in agreement.

"You can be free of anxiety while marrying army men. They are always reliable and loyal to the family," said Chen.

In an era when young people are depicted as calculating and materialistic when choosing spouses, Chen is one of many who are keen on a partner in military uniform.

A recent survey found that nearly two in three of 1,500 respondents would like to marry servicemen and women.

Personal integrity, marital fidelity, stable jobs and increasing salaries are the top reasons given for the choice, according to the poll conducted by China Youth Daily.

"The survey results are perhaps one of the best gifts for the August 1 Army Day," said a 26-year-old soldier surnamed Wu in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province. "It makes me more confident of finding a dream girl."

Marrying a soldier was popular before the 1980s, which meant not only a decent job but also glory to the whole family.

"Many friends envied me when I married Chen Xia's father. He was a heroic figure in our eyes," said Zhang.

But as the country turned more peaceful and prosperous, soldiers now live reclusive lives in camps and campuses.

It has also become difficult for them to get a spouse as they are confined to a small social circle and don't enjoy a high pay.

"Frankly speaking, I hesitated while Chen Xia planned to get married; afraid that she would suffer the same loneliness and economic pressure than I used to," said Zhang. "But I guess she knows the merits of marrying an army man."

(China Daily August 1, 2007)

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