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Is Cupid Aiming the Arrow at You Now?

Cupid's arrow is out there.

And he could be aiming it at you. It all depends on whether your name is on file at a matchmaking agency.

However, you've got to be on your toes: Sometimes all the arrows can come at once.

Li Yang, a single 22-year-old man from southwest China's Sichuan Province, was puzzled when more than 10 women, none of whom he'd ever met, called him in just one day. They all were lovestruck, wanting to go out with him.

Li was still sound asleep one morning late last year when he received a call from a young woman who began asking him all sorts of personal questions about his physique and his salary.

As the day went on, he received 10 more such calls.

The next day, a matchmaking agency called him and asked the bachelor to formally register with the service as he'd previously agreed.

Since Li had never formally registered, he did not to pay the expense for the matchmaking service.

However, Chen, a woman from Beijing, was not so lucky.

In her late 20s, she met a 38-year-old man named Wang Jun at a matrimonial agency in Beijing two years ago and the two began dating. One year ago, Wang borrowed more than 420,000 yuan (US$50,000) from Chen under various pretexts before disappearing.

The country has experienced an increasing matchmaking market in recent years as people have taken a more relaxed attitude towards love and marriage and as marriage and divorce have become easier, said Sun Xiaomei, an expert in the field.

It is estimated that in Beijing there are more than 1 million single people with more than 1,000 matchmaking agencies.

"The huge market has been a magnet for many, including illegal agencies who cheat their customers," Sun said.

Shanghai has launched a matchmaking agency association on a trial basis to help oversee such services while most parts of the country have no such groups to supervise the performance of matchmakers.

Generally speaking, matchmaking agencies are only supervised by industrial and commercial bureaux and no administrative measures or industrial associations are involved.

Like beauty saloons are supervised by the Health Ministry and Internet cafes are overseen by the Ministry of Culture, matchmaking agencies, with their increasing social impact, should be closely supervised on their self-discipline and professional ethics, an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

People who use matchmaking agencies make up roughly two types: One is in his or her late 20s or early 30s, but single due to attention on career, the other is divorced or widowed, business insiders said.

(China Daily March 11, 2004)

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