The men and women of the military may be a disciplined and motivated bunch but even they sometimes need a little help to zero in on a special target. Thanks to the Internet, lonely folks in the military are getting some help with love.
Ever since it was launched four years ago, a free online matchmaking service has lured more than 30,000 registrants and counting. The matchmaking site is part of www.chinamil.com.cn, the official website of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). The site will have a fresh new look starting today.
The online service is named "Green Magpie Bridge," after an ancient Chinese tale in which green magpies form a bridge in heaven to help a mortal young man on earth to meet his wife, a fairy in heaven.
Most of the members are young people in search of love and a lifelong mate from within the military.
Major Sun Xuebao, an editor with the website, says that three lucky couples have so far invited the webpage editor to attend their wedding ceremonies to show their thanks.
The matchmaking service, however, does not match the popularity of some other columns on www.chinamil.com.cn, which is trying to developing itself into an authentic website for delivery of information about the Chinese military, according to Senior Colonel Ji Guilin, the editor-in-chief of the military news website.
Although it is based on the PLA Daily, which has a daily circulation of about 500,000, it also targets domestic and foreign readers.
"The majority of the PLA Daily's readers were Chinese officers and soldiers. But for common people in China and abroad, the Internet is very efficient for them to know the Chinese military better," says Ji.
Everyday, the site publishes an average of 400 to 500 pieces of news, drawing an average of 10 million hits a day, he says. It also runs an English language section, having published some 30,000 news stories under different news tags and subjects and attracting some 60,000 hits a day.
Ji says that the website is also a window into the army and it's filled with news and commentaries on many domestic and international issues from the perspective of the Chinese military.
Its national defense forum offers a platform for users to talk to the servicemen and women who have made unusual contributions in their line of work. They include the three Chinese astronauts Yang Liwei, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng.
The forum now has more than 57,000 registered users who send an average of 435 messages or articles each day.
(China Daily 08/01/2007 page22)