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New Holiday Trend: Renting A Lover
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"Wanted: A girlfriend during Spring Festival 1,000 yuan ($128) for 10 days."

Xiao Zhu, a physics student at Peking University, posted this advertisement on campus last month. About 20 girls responded within two days.

The reason for the advertisement, according to Zhu, is quite simple.

"My aged parents sent me an 'ultimatum' last Spring Festival find a girlfriend this year," he said.

Zhu said he spends much of his time studying and is therefore too busy to find a girlfriend. However, as he did not wish to disappoint his parents, he decided to get himself a temporary girlfriend.

Zhu is not the only one caught in this dilemma.

In January last year, a teacher at the Shanghai-based East China Normal University posted a notice on another university's BBS, looking for a man who would pretend to be her boyfriend during her Spring Festival holiday at home.

Most people who want to rent a partner are university students and young white-collar workers.

According to Chinese tradition, no matter where you are or how busy, Spring Festival is a time to return home for family reunions. For many young people working or studying away from home, the festival affords a chance of getting together with their families.

It is also an opportunity for them to show their families they have been cultivating close friendship with the opposite sex.

Those who advertise for partners make it clear they do not have to live together or be intimate.

According to media reports, those who respond to such advertisements are normally looking for fun, money, or just a free trip.

Wang Zhenyu, a marriage expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said young people should be more honest with their parents, instead of deceiving them with rented partners.

And trusting a person solely on the basis of an advertisement could also be dangerous.

(China Daily February 15, 2007)

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