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China: Around The Nation

Chinese authorities seek to get tough on online dating scams with fresh move to target fake identities

Government also hopes to promote marriage through state-sanctioned matchmaking channels such as Communist Youth League groups

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 5:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 5:29pm

The Chinese authorities have announced a crackdown on the use of fake identities to sign up for online dating sites amid concerns about widespread marriage scams targeting China’s 200 million singles.

According to a set of new guidelines published by the government on Monday, dating sites will be required to take additional measures to vet users’ identities.

The government also said it wanted to promote, expand and further regulate state-sanctioned matchmaking channels such as Communist Youth League dating groups and grass roots community organisations.

The regulations, jointly drawn up by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Communist Youth League and the National Health and Family Planning Commission, are designed to regulate the marriage market and dating industry, and establish “sound and trustworthy platforms” for online dating.

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Since early June all users of dating sites have been required to register using their real name and it was not clear what additional steps the sites would have to take following the latest announcement.

Some sites already seek additional verification from users, such as a phone number or scan of an ID card.

It is not clear whether other personal details people give on the sites – for example their age, income and past marital history will also have to be verified.

The announcement also called for better sexual and reproductive health education for young people, marriage counselling services, as well as positive portrayals of married life in the arts and media.

The notice comes almost two weeks after the suicide of Su Xiangmao, a 37-year-old tech entrepreneur who left a note accusing his ex-wife, whom he met through the dating site Jiayuan.com, of lying about a previous marriage in her online profile.

The allegations against her have not been independently verified.

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The death sparked a fierce debate on Chinese social media about whether dating sites should make it mandatory for users to verify their personal details.

Jiayuan.com released a statement following Su’s death stating that the couple had both previously verified their real names through the site, but did not mention whether other personal details were authenticated.

In a case in March this year, police in the eastern province of Zhejiang arrested 149 suspects accused of creating fake online profiles that allowed them to pose as young women in order to scam large sums of money from men.

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The love lives of young Chinese people continues to be a source of concern for Beijing, which published a “Long-term Youth Development Plan” on September 4 that heavily advocated marriage as part of China’s “socialist core values”, and called for real-name authentication on dating websites.

The issue has the potential to be a major demographic problem for China.

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A 2012 report from the Australian National University estimated that 30 million more Chinese men than women will be looking for a partner in 2020, as a result of the gender imbalance caused by several decades of the one-child policy.