It wouldn’t be a festival without a data dump from one of the big Chinese tech firms. Alibaba marked Qixi or “China’s Valentine’s Day” with the release of some whimsical maps of where singles live in Chinese cities and where people go on dates. Delve a little deeper and the group is profiling its users across all platforms to determine whether or not they’re single and using location data for our amusement.

The maps of Beijing, Hangzhou (Alibaba’s hometown), Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Chengdu were widely circulated in Chinese media yesterday, the 7th day of the 7th lunar month which is Qixi in China, a festival also celebrated in Japan and South Korea. Alibaba Group’s PR team marked the occasion with its “Qixi Singles’ Survival Guide” (七夕单身人士生存指南), intended as an amusing way to get coverage for promotions under the guise of helping singles avoid areas thronging with loved up couples.

The maps are of some demographic interest. In Beijing, it’s the northwest of the city (where the universities are) that has the highest concentration of singles, also because that area has the technology districts. Hangzhou has a similar concentration of singles in its large tech zones. Beijing’s smug marrieds, to quote Bridget Jones, are happily settled closer into town, within the Second Ring road. This is a pattern also seen in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Chengdu—couples live in the main residential areas. Shanghai and Shenzhen’s singles are more scattered across the cities while Beijing and Chengdu have tighter concentrations. Shanghai’s main area of single people turns out to be People’s Park, world-famous for the marriage market run by their parents.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...