LONDON: A Chinese city has launched a state-sponsored matchmaking app that promises to find the perfect partner, in an attempt to reverse the declining marriage rate.
Guixi, a city of about 640,000 people in Jiangxi province in eastern China, has developed an app that uses residents’ data to build a matchmaking platform.
After receiving the data, the app — known as Palm Guixi — then looks for potential matches to send a prospective couple on a blind date.
The app was created as part of a province-wide initiative aimed at boosting the marriage rate, which has been declining across China over the past decade.
According to the China Statistics Yearbook, in 2021 the number of people getting married in the country dropped to 7.64 million, about 500,000 down on the previous year and a rate of 5.4 marriages per 1,000 people.
The figures highlight a worrying trend, although it is difficult to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on the figures.
The marriage rate in Saudi Arabia in contrast was at 9.6 per 1,000 people in 2020, with a growth rate of 10.6 percent from 2019.
The downward trend in China is likely to be mirrored by a further fall in birth rates, which plummeted to a historic low of 6.77 births per 1,000 people in 2022, according to official figures, with the population declining for the first time in six decades.
The app is not the only incentive in Jiangxi’s campaign to increase the marriage rate.
In other areas of the province, local authorities have promoted initiatives for single locals to socialize.
The campaign also aims to raise awareness of high “bride prices,” a cultural tradition in which the potential groom offers large sums of cash to the bride’s family in a practice that remains common, especially in rural areas.
Several state officials around the world have come up with unusual ways to promote marriage and the birth rate in the last few years.
A project was sponsored a few years ago by Luanzhou municipality in China’s Hebei province, with authorities mapping data about the city’s single women and men while helping them to find their perfect match.
The Iranian government in 2021 endorsed a state-run dating app called Hamdam to help single people find the right partner for a “sustainable marriage.”
Japanese authorities since 2010 have set up matchmaking websites to pair residents with lonely hearts in cities in an effort to persuade urbanites to marry and relocate to the countryside.