CHINANEWS
China News Service (CNS) is Beijing-based international news agency established by Chinese journalists and experts in 1952. Its website was launched in 1995.
Society

Eastern European Models Cash In For China's 'Singles Day'

BEIJING — These days, it is not rare to bump into blond, slim, pretty teenage girls on the streets of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The majority of them, typically between 16 and 22 years old, come from Eastern Europe and are working temporarily as models in China.

The pace picks up in the late summer and autumn, as China's cross-border e-commerce portals prepare their fashion catalogues for the Christmas season, but also for Nov. 11, China's so-called "Singles' Day," celebrated each year by a fanatic e-commerce shopping spree, China News reported.

As shown in a recent survey by Alibaba, one of the world's largest online shopping retail platforms, there are some 10,000 would-be female models from around the world inquiring about jobs in China.

Holding a work visa for 90 days, these young women come and go like beautiful migrating birds. Some of them work for runway events or automobile shows. But even more are those in photo shoots of e-commerce apparel, not only for foreign buyers but also for Chinese shoppers, whose aesthetic standards have become more and more westernized.

Competition is fierce.

According to zhihu.com, a Chinese question-and-answer website, 70% of these arrivals are from Eastern Europe, including 36% Russians and 22% Ukrainians. The hourly pay varies between 1,000-3,000 RMB ($144-$430), compared to average monthly wages of around $900 in Russia.

Marina is 16 and comes from Ukraine. She arrived in China in July hoping to make some pocket money during her summer vacation. She is one of seven young Eastern European models of a Chinese agency which houses them in a small flat in Hangzhou, where Alibaba's headquarters are. They all sleep in basic single beds. "This is my dream come true," Marina says.

Still, the competition is fierce. After being in China for two months, Marina has only found seven days of work: once for a catwalk, the others for prints or internet ads. She was paid 700 RMB ($100) an hour, quite a bit lower than the average quotation. "They prefer models with experience", she says.

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How Chinese Students Spend Summer Vacation? Getting Plastic Surgery

Photo: China Cosmetic Surgery Facebook page

For some students, summer is a time to rest; for others, a time to work. But for a growing number of China's female youth, the summer break is a chance to go under the knife.

According to a report last week in China News, plastic surgery for Chinese women has begun to spread from the typical middle-aged women to recent high school graduates and university students.

Since June, major Chinese hospitals and cosmetic surgery clinics report having received about twice the normal number of patients consulting about plastic surgery. More than half of them are students.

Xiao Si is one of them. Entering a college specialized in performing arts, she isn’t satisfied with her looks. China News reports that Xiao went through a "whole set" of cosmetic interventions including a double-fold eyelids operation, a nose job, and chin augmentation. She has the full support of her parents,

"I feel more confident now and, seeing my success, quite a few of my friends are now also finding out how to shape themselves up!" boasted Xiao, who had the operations done a month ago.

Yang Wenhua, a doctor specializing in cosmetic surgery, confirmed to China News that his clinic’s business has accelerated during the last two summers, including plenty of girls who just walked out of their high schools and are looking forward to their "new life with a new image."

Yang said other girls seeking surgery blame a recent break-up on their looks. "Summer vacation is the best moment to do it since you need time to recover after surgery," noted the doctor.

Thanks to several South Korean TV series’ popularity in China, many girls go to hospitals holding film star photos and ask to be transformed to look like their idols, the China News article said.

South Korea is reported to have the world’s highest proportion of women resorting to the help of cosmetic operations. According to data published by South Korea’s Health and Welfare Ministry, in 2013, Chinese people accounted for 26.5% of the total number of medical tourists in the country, of which the majority were there for plastic surgery.

Two weeks ago, the broadcast of the South Korean Beauty Contest was making news in neighboring Japan and China because so many of the contestants had unusually narrow noses and wide eyes. "This is more like a Plastic Surgery Fair!," Apple Daily, a Hong Kong newspaper quipped. "The 34 contenders all look identical!"

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New 'Test Nannies' For High-Stakes Chinese Entrance Exam

Sitting an exam in China â€" Photo: Kevin Dooley

China's National Higher Education Entrance Examination (commonly known as Gaokao) is a two-day, nine-hour, monumentally stressful examination that the country's 9.4 million graduating high school students took earlier this week.

The grade on this test is the only qualification many Chinese universities consider for admittance, so for the many ambitious Chinese students and their families, the stakes are high. And the pressure, huge.

It is, as Star News notes, a perfect scenario for shrewd businessmen to take advantage of anxious parents. We've read in the past about hotels around testing sites jacking up their rates by over 1,000 RMB ($152) during the week leading up to the exam, as proximity to the testing centers means students won't lose precious studying time or arrive late because of traffic. Many hotel restaurants also offer special expensive "test packages" advertising meals with the perfect nutritious proportions and products to enhance immunity and prevent fatigue. These gimmicks attract desperate parents searching for any score-booster on an exam they believe will largely determine their child's destiny.

This year, as the exam began Monday, Chinese media reported the appearance of a new offer: Though many parents travel with their children, they now can also hire a "Entrance Examination Nanny". China News reports that parents can hire university students to watch over their graduating seniors at and around the testing sites. For 300 RMB per hour ($45), the exam nannies take care of numerous tasks, from last-minute tutoring to relieving psychological strain to ensuring nutritious meals.

All that's left, it seems, is finding a way for the exam to take itself!

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Twins Marry Twins, Seek Plastic Surgery To Tell Who’s Who

It sounds like the makings of a bad sitcom.

In China's northern Shanxi province, twin sisters married twin brothers, but uncomfortable mix-ups have led them to seek minor surgery to avoid confusing their respective partners, China News reports.

According to the newspaper, a matchmaker fixed up the two Zhao brothers with the Yuan sisters over a year ago. They come from villages just 10 kilometers apart. After a year of dating, the two couples decided on the same day to get married â€" the elder brother with the elder sister, and the younger brother with the younger sister, naturally.

The two couples even live together in the same house, though on different floors, according to the local Shanxi Evening Post.

But because the brothers and sisters are so alike â€" even down to their voices and facial expressions â€" the couples frequently make mistakes in addressing themselves to their spouses.

"It's particularly difficult when it gets dark," one of the Zhao brothers said. "Recently one evening after dinner, we all decided to go for a walk. But when I took the hand of my wife and turned around, I suddenly realized that she was my sister-in-law!"

Tired of the confusion, and keen to avoid even greater embarrassments, the two couples decided during their honeymoons to undergo minor plastic surgery on their face.

They went to a clinic in Shanghai, which gathered together a special team, including a plastic surgery expert, a surgeon and a dermatologist, to help the couples.

The doctors believe minor surgery will successfully mean "they can easily identify each other hereafter."