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Free Condoms Given on Coming Cupid Day

A Shanghai cinema says it will give out free condoms to its customers watching films on Valentine's Day this Saturday. The cinema,together with a department store asking people to kiss in public,is creating controversy.

The Broadband International Cineplex located at Shanghai Times Square said 3,000 condoms will be available at the ticket kiosk on Saturday and customers can help themselves.

"We believe in a developed city like Shanghai that condoms are no longer a taboo for our customers," said an employee who identified himself as Dong.

"Providing condoms supports a healthy and secured sex life and can arouse a wareness about safe sex and AIDS prevention."

While receiving applauds from young people, many cinemas disapprove of the idea.

"Watching a movie is a spiritual enjoyment and irrelevant to condoms," an employee from the Shanghai Film Art Center said.

"Saint Valentine's Day means showing love and care to all the people around you." The complaint is echoed by others.

"China isn't so open at present. Sex is a private topic," said Zhang Lin, a 55-year-old local company clerk. "It is awkward to provide condoms in public,and it is meaningless to highlight a Western celebration."

However, sociologists said condoms do not directly lead to sex.

"But when condoms are distributed in a public place like the cinema, people should considert he reaction of others, especially children and the elderly," said Shen Yifei,a student at Fudan University. "It is much better to distribute condoms at an AIDS prevention lecture or a fashion party."

Meanwhile, Champs Elysees International Wedding Collection Gallery, in Xujiahui, announced yesterday that couples can win a pair of rose sand tickets for a party arranged the following day at the mall, provided they kiss passionatelyin public.

The store, selling wedding-related items, uses the gimmick to attract more attention.

"We hope to make a kind of fanfare with the event to promote our brand to potential customers," said Hu Xinchuan, a store employee.

However, none of the eight interviewees said they will perform kissing in public.

"I'm not interested in such activities and neither is my girlfriend," said Fang Ping, a senior university student.

"Kiss in public? Love is not a show," said Wu Shu,a 25-year-old woman.

In other Valentines Day promotions, the Shanghai PortmanRitz-Carlton, is offering a one nightstay at the presidential suite for 88,888yuan (US$10,709).

The hotel promises to decorate the room with 5,000 roses, among other romantic arrangements."

"With passion and enough money, the guy treating his woman to that may just be the ideal lover of every woman," saidLi Ling, a 26-year-old white-collarworker." But it's beyond our reach in this world. I don't expect my boyfriend to waste money on roses and fancy hotel rooms. With that amount of money,I would prefer a car."

(eastday.com February 13, 2004)

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