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    Chinese City Creates Single Residents’ Database for Matchmaking

    Several cities in Jiangxi province are actively playing the role of Cupid to improve the country’s falling marriage and birth rates.

    Some Chinese cities desperately want their residents to get hitched.

    Amid the lowest national marriage rate in decades, several cities in the eastern province of Jiangxi have launched matchmaking initiatives, with one city going as far as creating a database of its unmarried residents, the state-run China Youth Daily reported Thursday. The effort is said to be part of the provincial plan to “reform marriage customs,” which will promote new traditions while getting rid of the archaic practice of betrothal gifts, including cash and other items.

    The city of Guixi has already rolled out a mini-app with matchmaking services for local residents and also plans to organize events for singles seeking to mingle. As of Friday, information about individuals who were still single, however, wasn’t accessible on the mini-app, and it’s unclear if the decision to join is voluntary or if the authorities would make the information available to all.

    Sixth Tone’s calls for comments to the “matchmaking consulting hotline” number on the mini-app went unanswered Friday.

    China’s marriage rate has been freefalling lately, as many young people are less keen on settling down compared with the previous generation. Only 11.58 million people got married for the first time in 2021, the lowest number since 1985.

    The lackluster attitude toward marriage and the country’s record low birth rates have created new challenges for local governments trying to boost the figures. Both local and central governments have initiated various schemes, some of which were financial, to encourage people to tie the knot and have more children in the past few years.

    In Yushan County of Jiangxi, the local government has now created an internal specialized database to track those who have forged a relationship after its matchmaking drive, according to the China Youth Daily. Local officials also plan to follow up on the couple’s relationship status and provide tips on making things work for it to eventually lead to marriage.

    “We shall form a closed-loop service system to help the young meet, fall in love, and get married,” the Yushan government told the China Youth Daily. 

    In provinces like Jiangxi, the gender imbalance — there were 1.5 million more men than women in 2021 — and high betrothal gifts have been blamed for the low marriage rate, with people calling for more regulations to tame the latter. A 2020 report from tech giant Tencent showed that Jiangxi’s residents gave the fourth highest betrothal gifts nationally, amounting to an average of 112,000 yuan ($16,300).

    Jiangxi’s latest matchmaking initiative has had a mixed reaction online — while some gave a thumbs up to the local government’s efforts, others questioned if it was legal for authorities to collect personal information of single people for matchmaking purposes. Some users on microblogging platform Weibo also said they were worried about their privacy, especially if such information would end up online without their consent.

    “A matchmaking platform established by the government is more trusted than commercial ones that you need to pay for yourself at least,” said one Weibo user, defending Jiangxi’s efforts. “But we still need to take care of our private information.”

    “Why is there no database for rapists or domestic violence abusers?” another user retorted.

    Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

    (Header image: People check out dating information at a park in Hui’an, Jiasngsu province, Jan. 1, 2019. VCG)