For single people, dating fatigue is a universal phenomenon. Hours of swiping left can lead to despair at the potential matches in your area. One city in Jiangxi, a province in eastern China, reckons that it has come up with a solution for the lovelorn or love-weary: a state-sponsored matchmaking service.
Guixi, a city of about 640,000 people, has launched an app that uses data on single residents to build a matchmaking platform. The app is known as “Palm Guixi” and includes a platform for organising blind dates, according to China Youth Daily, a state-run newspaper.
The app is part of a province-wide initiative to boost the marriage rate, which has been falling nationwide for the past decade. In 2021 there were 5.4 marriages per 1,000 people, compared with six in the US.
Elsewhere in Jiangxi, local governments are organising in-person events to get people mingling. In Gao’an city, about 100 young singles attended an event in Ruizhou Fuya park where they could dress up in traditional clothes, play games and “get closer” to each other as they felt “the profoundness of Chinese culture”.
One of the main pillars of the Jiangxi pilot is a campaign against high “bride prices”. In recent years the government has discouraged the traditional practice of a potential groom offering a bride’s family cash before marriage. The country’s civil code prohibits “the exaction of money or gifts in connection with marriage”. But in practice the tradition remains common, especially in rural areas. In 2022 Jiangxi topped an unofficial nationwide ranking of bride prices, with an average of 380,000 yuan (£45,000).
Through a combination of public awareness campaigns and limits on extravagant wedding ceremonies and banquets, Shicheng county claims to have virtually eliminated “betrothal gifts”.
Online reactions to the state-sponsored matchmaking service have been mixed. Many commenters on Weibo linked it to the government’s push to boost China’s rapidly falling birthrate. Chinese people are expected to “breed like pigs”, wrote one user.