“This course will lead you into the unknown realm of love and help you gain new flirting skills and approach,” the course description reads.A 108-yuan course purporting to teach sexual skills, titled “Explore females’ secret garden”, bears the tagline: “Instead of winning her heart, why not conquer her body.” Despite its growing popularity, online dating is not without peril.Across town, 60-year-old Chiu Ngat has been visiting Shenzhen’s Lianhuashan Park every day for the past 15 months to inspect hundreds of dating profiles hanging on fences, browsing for a potential son-in-law.“I know there are online platforms,” says Chiu, “but it is more reliable when you have actually met their parents”.Li Jian, a 29-year-old bank manager, was among the 32 single men and women gathered at a nondescript cafe in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen for a recent speed-dating event hosted by a local company called Little Dates.Li has precisely eight minutes to check out each potential mate, and is optimistic that, by the end of the four-hour exercise, he will walk away with one.Since the quality of candidates affects the reputation of the companies behind such apps, some are designed to rigorously filter out scammers.Despite the convenience of meeting people digitally, offline group dating events remain popular – and they take many forms.
Some use speed dating, others apps to which they may pay thousands; their parents resort to an old-fashioned way of seeking a match Millions of Chinese are heading home this week for the Lunar New Year holiday, a time that should be among the happiest for people across the country; however, for those who remain single, parental expectations can make it a stressful one.
Last year, an operator of an app based in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong was reportedly raided for swindling 300 million yuan by creating fake accounts of female users with sexy profile pictures.
Using these accounts, the company sent automated messages to hit on male users, charged them money to continue the conversation, and cajoled them into buying gifts.
It is not uncommon to run into frauds posting fake information.
“Some girls, after chatting for a while, will start asking you for money,” says Zhang, a 24-year-old, one of the participants at the Little Dates event, who also declined to give his full name.
And single people, under heavy social pressure to marry, have little time to waste before settling down.