Visitors participate in speed dating in Shanghai. Photo: PETER PARKS / AFP
When it comes to the dwindling love lives of its single citizens, one local government in China is taking matters into its own hands—by building an extensive state-run database of its local bachelors and bachelorettes to help them find their perfect match. Communist Party officials from the northern city of Luanzhou announced on Monday that they had begun work on gathering the personal information of unmarried men and women, and entering collected data in a central database.
As the pandemic continues to limit social interaction for many, local officials said matchmaking parties for civil servants and workers at state-owned enterprises were being held, with blind date sessions also in the works. Two group dating parties have been organised already this year, with a virtual dating party scheduled to be held on New Year’s Eve on app Douyin, the original Chinese version of TikTok. “We hope to bring single men and women together through activities,” a representative from the local municipal government said in a statement published on the Sina Weibo microblogging website this week. Authorities also highlighted Luanzhou’s positive traits as a “youth-friendly city,” adding that requests for a dating forum had come in from members of the public.
But the government’s intentions, however good, were lost on many Chinese internet users, who remained skeptical about their approach to finding love. “If they think that youngsters are going to forgo partying in favor of a virtual matchmaking party, they are so wrong,” one Weibo user wrote. Others talked about the country’s controversial family planning policies and how they had “come back to bite” the Chinese government. “Big families were heavily penalized under the one-child policy and now the government is trying to undo the harmful repercussions of that toxic law,” another user said. “It’s going to take a lot more to convince modern China to go back to the old ways. People are just too content with their lives to drastically change.” Gender imbalance remains a huge issue in Chinese society, a hangover of the country’s decades-long one-child policy which saw a strong preference for boys over girls. Once-a-decade population data released by the Chinese government this year revealed a whopping 35 million more single men than women, while the total number of singles in China is expected to surpass 90 million in the coming years. Unmarried women face pressure to find husbands to reduce the number of single men, with those who don’t stigmatized as “leftover women” by Chinese society. Follow Heather Chen on Twitter.