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Eight-minute-dating: New Matchmaker in Harbin

Young people in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province never thought of dating eight or ten people in one night until "eight-minute-dating" came to the province's capital, Harbin.


Begun in 2001 by a Houston-based company, the eight-minute-dating is now popular in many cities across the United States. During the game every young man and woman pair up for an eight-minute conversation. When the bell rings, they exchange partners for another eight-minute chat.


The brand-new way of matchmaking came to China not long ago and is now in several bars in Beijing, Shanghai and Harbin.


The game has been enthusiastically received by urban Chinese, whose fast pace of life leaves less time for social gatherings.


A computer company technician surnamed Zheng said he has "a blank emotion life." Though a key member of his company, Zheng said that he has hardly any time for a social life, letting alone meeting Miss Right.


The eight-minute-dating, however, has given him a chance to change this.


"The inexpensive, popular and not embarrassing activity has already become a new way of my life," he said.


The majority of the eight-minute-dating participants are people between the ages of 20 and 30, with relatively high educational background. They include public servants, teachers, doctors, journalists and company clerks, said Li Nan, manager of Harbin Xindongcaihong Media Company, who introduced the activity into the city.


"What we are doing is not wholesaling love but give more opportunities to be in love," Li said.


Psychologists said that people make an impression within 30 seconds of meeting and eight minutes is the most proper length of time for a first meeting.


The manager said during the eight minutes, the participants are not permitted to ask their "date" his or her real name or phone number. That information is available only afterward.


Li said the company have setup a website at www.480.com.cn. Within one month, thousands of the applicants have provided their personal data via the website. 

(Xinhua News Agency January 5, 2005)

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