Young, single Chinese people all face the pressures of their relatives to bring home a partner during the Chinese new year holiday, but a new service in China has gained popularity recently allowing people to hire a girlfriend/boyfriend to take home for holiday week.
The service became popular when online shopping websites allowed people to place ads online to have people pose as girlfriends or boyfriends. Customers would browse the website and search for a “partner” based on their pictures. After confirmation, the sellers and buyers would meet up and “rehearse” to make them seem like a real couple.
Website Meituan held a lottery promotion where the winner would be able to rent a girlfriend/boyfriend for free. Meituan also offered to pay for accommodation and transportation. The website reported that almost 170,000 people signed up for the chance to win.
Prices for this unique service ranch from 200 to more than 1000 RMB, but charge extra by the amount of drinking. For example a seller on Taobao.com, a Chinese website similar to eBay, gave prices of 50 RMB for drinking 100ml of white wine, 70 RMB for 100 ml of red wine and 20 RMB for 500 ml of beer. However the renting services strictly prohibit certain acts, including kissing and making love.
The phenomenon became a very appealing topic to TV producers who have since made an idol drama called “Renting a Girlfriend Home for Chinese New Year” in 2010, where two strangers make an arrangement to pose as a couple for the festival to impress their relatives.
Despite the service appearing to be a highly talked about topic, very few people actually purchase this service. Sina.com reported in a survey that 70% of people interviewed are against the idea of renting a partner and CCTV have also stated that people rarely purchase the service on Taobao.com.