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XINHUA, JIANGXI, GLOBAL TIMES (China), WANT DAILY (Taiwan)

JIANGXI – The Chinese New Year is the worst holiday to be single in China – the family pressure is too intense. “With or without money, get married to have a better New Year,” goes the Chinese proverb.

The Chinese New Year– also called the Spring Festival – starts on February 10 this year, and lasts for seven days. Traditionally, everyone heads home for the holiday, and there is a lot of pressure for young men and women to bring a girlfriend/boyfriend home to meet their relatives.

“How old are you? When are you getting married? I have got someone to introduce to you…” this is what young singles have to face when going home for the holidays, according to Xinhua.

Thanks to modern technology, this is not a problem anymore. Many Chinese online shopping sites have started offering “Rent a girlfriend/boyfriend to take home” services, with photos of prospective fake partners.

“Female, college graduate, from Anhui Province. Don’t get me wrong, I rent out my time, not any part of my body…” says this advert on Zuyou (meaning rent a friend) Net.

“I’m 170 cm and 30-years-old, mature and polite, humorous as well as excellent at singing karaoke,” Xinhua quoted another.

On taobao.com, China's largest auctioning website, there are at least 716 services that offer boyfriends for hire and 1,495 that offer girlfriends for hire, according to the Global Times.

The prices of these rentals varied mostly from 200-2000 Yuan ($32-$320) a day depending on the required length of the “lease” and appearance, education and manners. “Girls who are beautiful or hot cost more,” obviously, wrote the Global Times.

Some specify their services in detail. “200 Yuan per day plus each meeting with relatives is an additional 50 Yuan ($8); holding hands or having meals with the family is charged extra …” according to Want Daily.

Both renter and “rentee” are usually required to show ID before they sign their rental agreement. However, as two lawyers warned on a Jiangxi expand=1] satellite TV station, young singles who are tempted to rent someone to take home for the holidays should be aware that girlfriend/boyfriend rental is not a legal trading practice. The signed agreement can’t be regarded as valid and thus cannot protect the involved parties. Not to mention the potential danger that taking a stranger home might lead to.

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Meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry Board where Putin announced the possible use of nuclear weapons.

Anna Akage, Bertrand Hauger, Meike Eijsberg, Sophia Constantino, and Emma Albright

Backed in a corner with this month’s successful Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin made allusions last week to Moscow’s nuclear arsenal. Putin’s veiled threat has prompted a mixture of warnings and posturing over the past 72 hours.

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U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a weekend interview on U.S. network NBC that “If Russia crosses this line, there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively.” Sullivan added that the United States has been in frequent and direct contact with Russia to discuss the situation in Ukraine as well as Putin’s actions and threats.

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