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The best gift a Chinese bachelor thinks he can take home for parents is a bride-to-be. Under parents' pressure to marry, many young men in China this year took hired women along on their homecoming for the Lunar New Year.

Some luckless men without girlfriends preferred hiring women to meet their parents on the occasion of Lunar New Year, which fell Monday this year, so the old couple was happy, Xinhua reported.

Online advertisements offering "temporary" boyfriends and girlfriends started appearing on, China's largest consumer e-commerce website, many weeks ahead of the traditional Chinese holiday.

Dozens of Taobao stores offered such "boy meets girl" rental services. The prices depended upon the required intimacy, time and distance. A handshake with parents was 3 yuan (about half a dollar), while hugs and kisses cost 5 yuan and 10 yuan, respectively.

Most stores charged 8 yuan per hour for the hired date to accompany a customer to a family dinner, and 15 yuan per hour to join them on a party or a shopping sortie.

The rates were for local service. But if the fake date had to travel to another city, the charge was several times higher.

A store based in Guangzhou city, for example, charged 1,500 yuan a day for such a service.

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 at 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.

Hu said a colleague "rented one for three days last year". This year, he hired someone else for five days.


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