Romance through Internet is slowly catching up in China with number of youngsters trying to find their love live on the net through an online meeting place known as Bulletin Board System or BBS. //
Li Mei met her boyfriend Liu Wei in a chat room called "Pie Love", set up by the well-known Shuimu Tsinghua BBS (SMTH), which is run by students from prestigious Tsinghua University here. Four months later, Mei and Wei are engaged.
"BBS is a bridge for our romance," said Mei, who was one of the hundreds of girls who replied to Wei's dating advert.
"If you leave a message and a picture on Pie Love, it is very likely to top the BBS headlines," said a Tsinghua graduate Yang Fang.
SMTH has around six million readers a day and a top 10 topic will probably have more readers than the headlines of the New York Times, she added.
Cai, an undergraduate at the elite Beijing University, once left a message on SMTH to look for a boyfriend and received an unexpected flurry of replies from more than 100 boys.
"I did it just out of curiosity," she explained, adding that she met some of them, but did not find a match.
Unlike Cai, Ma Sisi is much luckier. She found a boyfriend a year ago by leaving a note on SMTH and now she has placed an advert on behalf of her brother.
"Like many computer science students, my brother is a web junkie and always on the Internet. BBS is a good way for someone who spends ten hours a day with his computer to look for his true love," Ma said.
However, according to an administrator of Pie Love, there are also numerous hoax adverts.
"If we discover someone breaking the rules, we will ban him or her from writing and leaving messages on BBS," said the administrator, adding that the system also has a blacklist of unwelcome user names at the bottom of the web page.
According to the latest statistics, China has 111 million Internet users,
of which a majority is of young people, and the number is expected to jump by at least 15 percent annually until 2010.
Sociologists recognise that the Internet is a good way for the youth to expand their social circle.
"We don't have to worry too much about the effects of web romance. I believe the young people will gradually understand the meaning of true love with more social practice and interactions in daily life," said Wang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
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