In China, people had yet to acclimate to the proliferation of choices. In the local press, Gong was often described as “China’s No. 1 matchmaker,” even though her business was a rebuke to the very idea of matchmaking. Despite the name of her company, Beautiful Destiny, she projected nothing more plainly than her belief that destiny was obsolete. “Chinese people still put their faith in destiny,” she told the new employees. “They say, ‘Oh, I’ll get used to whatever happens.’ But they don’t need to do that anymore! Desire can lead them now. We’re giving people the freedom of love.”

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In 2005, Chinese television broadcast the fist American Idol-style program - the Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl Contest. Its success spawned a new genre known as 'choice shows," in which contestants could choose or be chosen by one another and the audience.

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Ads were so abundant that fashion magazines ran up against physical constraints: editors of the Chinese edition of Cosmopolitan once had to split an issue into two volumes because a single magazine was too thick to handle.

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Money and love had always been linked more explicitly in China than in the West, but the finances were simpler when almost everyone was broke.

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Traditionally, young Chinese couples moved in with the groom's parents, but by the twenty-first century less than half of them stayed very long, and the economists Shang-Jin Wei and Xiaobo Zhang discovered that parents with sons were building ever larger and more expensive houses for their offspring, to attract better matches - a real estate phenomenon that became known as the "mother-in-law syndrome."