- Published on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 16:26
China's Taobao is one of the world's largest e-commerce websites, a combination of eBay and Amazon, only bigger. Its 500 million registered users trade almost 50,000 items of merchandise every minute on average.
Taobao has two major platforms - the TMall, where established brand owners sell directly to customers, and the Taobao Market place, where smaller companies and budding entrepreneurs set up shop.
On 11 November 2013, when Taobao held its annual big sales day, 1bn yuan worth of goods were traded in just over six minutes and the total sales for the day amounted to more than 35bn yuan ($5.6bn; £3.45bn).
With more than 800 million items listed, you can find almost anything offered for sale on the website.
Some of the unusual items up for sale on the Taobao Marketplace at the moment is boyfriends for people who cannot bring a partner along to family get-togethers
Boyfriend for hire
The Lunar New Year in China, like Christmas in the West, is a time for family get-togethers.
But for many single men and women, these gatherings can be a highly stressful time when relatives start asking questions of a personal nature.
Right before the Chinese New Year, there was an explosion of listings of men offering their services as pretend boyfriends.
One such vendor had a clear list of prices:
For trips to other cities to visit family - 800 yuan a day
To act as shopping escort - 150 yuan an hour
To help release negative energy by listening to complains or abuse - 50 yuan per 20 minutes
The listings have all disappeared as the festive season is now over, so there is no way of knowing if any of the men who offered themselves for hire actually received any business.