New Delhi, Jan 28: Under pressure to marry, some Chinese men have resorted to hiring a woman to please their parents-at least temporarily-during their homecoming for the Lunar New Year, which fell on Monday this year.
Online ads offering surrogate boyfriends and girlfriends appeared on Taobao.com, China's largest consumer e-commerce website, several weeks ahead of the traditional Chinese holiday, China Daily reported.
Dozens of Taobao stores offered rental services, and prices varied according to the required intimacy, time and distance.
The average price for a handshake was 3 yuan, while hugs and kisses were going for 5 yuan and 10 yuan, respectively.
Most stores charged 8 yuan per hour for the hired date to accompany the customer to a family dinner, and 15 yuan per hour to join them on a party or a shopping tour.
The prices, however, were reserved for local service. If the fake date had to travel to another city, the price was several times higher. A store based in Guangzhou charged 1,500 yuan a day.
Though most of Taobao's rent-a-date services received several thousand clicks on average, very few had transaction records.
An online store based in Shanghai showed two transactions, and two others had received one order each.
Software engineer Hu Xiaofei said he spent 6,000 yuan, more than half of his year-end bonus, to rent a girlfriend for a week-long stay in his family home in the countryside of central Hunan province.
"My parents want me to marry early, but I can't find a girlfriend easily. So I might as well hire one to make them happy, " Hu said.
However, Shenyang-based lawyer Liu Ancai warned of risks in the rental service.
"The deal is a hiring agreement instead of a transaction of consumer goods. Such services are neither banned nor supported by law, but any conflict or complaint would be hard to settle," Liu said.
Hou Xiaofeng, a researcher with the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said such acts are dishonest and defy basic moral standards.
"These young people may think it's an act of filial piety to bring home a fake fiancee, but it's sheer cheating. It's also dangerous to take home a complete stranger-you never know what might happen," said Hou. (ANI)